I pledge allegiance to myself…
Published 1:00 pm Friday, October 5, 2012
There is an apparent and growing perception, we Americans are somehow adrift as a country: economically, morally and spiritually. As in each generation, there is genuine concern about the succeeding generations’ well-being and these days are no exception. A weak economy, a shrinking middle-class, remote wars and moral malaise have heightened our growing concerns. As we have endured this condition for several years, there is an uneasy feeling it has permeated our psyches, draining our national spirit and even impinging upon our relationship with God.
When we now stand to collectively proclaim the United States’ “Pledge of Allegiance,” there seems to be more volume to the effort, more urgency in our voices. Over the years, through ebb and flow of this crisis and that, this has been frequently the case. Of course, there are many other pledges, creeds, oaths, and vows, which express our outward direction and desires. We pledge money to a cause we believe in. We express the creeds, or beliefs, of our religion. Entering the Armed Forces, we say the Oath of Enlistment. Among so many other similar statements extant, we exchange vows in matrimony.
Each positive proclamation, regardless of title, expresses commitment to some entity, or ideal, outside of ourselves. Each outlines and raises the base expectations of our behaviors and many express ideals for the benefit of others. In times of our greater troubles, or concerns, we more readily join with others in our passions. Yet, we may not turn to God for strength and answers, looking only within that Great Void, within ourselves, or others.
However, what about having our own pledges, our own oaths, our own creeds explicitly written and believed, only for ourselves? However, be cautioned, this is not some narcissistic enterprise in applying self-congratulatory plaudits, or a pride-full promise to amass all we can grab in life. No, this has nothing to do with pride. As the renowned Christian writer C.S. Lewis reminds us, “All sin begins with pride.” For us, it has to do with a full commitment, only to ourselves and only to God, about bringing ourselves to a level of greatness, where we would not be otherwise. How many of us, as children, were given long lectures on behavior and “turning over a new leaf?” How many of us, in Sunday school, were taught about what being good, with God, was all about? Enshrined, in many of us, is that nagging call to be of “better worth.”
In being true to ourselves, we must have a living creed, to which we truly follow. Living for what the day may bring and adapting to the winds of life, is not being true to oneself…or to others.
A wise woman once said to her grandchild, “Dear, there are things we just don’t do.” Here is a creed, a succinct statement of a proper approach to the “temptations.,” encapsulated in a spare expression. For, if we doubt the appropriateness of our sensibilities, then the “don’t” must echo within. Conversely, the “do’s” require us to extend ourselves, beyond our prurient, base interests.
Excuse making, rationalization, accepting less, and doing less, than what is honorable and good brings us to the places we often lament. Our individual problems, and our nation’s problems, our individual successes and our nation’s successes, rely upon the inner commitment of our individual citizens to a higher calling, first within themselves and getting “right” with God and then, in service to this great Nation. Let us be not deluded, for with God and within ourselves lies the answers for our successes… and our futures.