Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I Pledge Allegiance...

I Pledge Allegiance...

As a Christian, I pledge allegiance first to Yahweh’s Kingship. This is not a statement against the United States but is, in fact, a statement for the kingdom of God. It is a statement for the teachings of Christ; for the Sermon on the Mount; for parables of the Good Samaritan and the Sheep and the Goats; and for the scores of verses in both the New and Old Testaments that command both church and secular peoples to adequately care for the poor and to love aliens living in their lands as if they were brothers and sisters.

As both a former UAW and USW member, I pledge allegiance to labor. This is not a statement against the United States but is, in fact, a statement for the rights of working people in the United States. It is a statement that recognizes the thousands of union members (and even their spouses and children) who lost their lives, too often from bullets fired by U.S. troops and state and local law enforcement, in labor’s fight against child labor and for the eight-hour day, the five day work week, job safety and a liveable wage. It is a statement that demonstrates which side I am on as today’s politicians in both prominent parties try to roll back laws protecting workers and working conditions.

In solidarity with the people I walked alongside in the 1960s voter registration drives in Mississippi (but admittedly always with the knowledge I could flee to a place of safety--i.e. White Privilege), I pledge allegiance to the Black Lives Matter Movement. For truly I believe that people who can’t bring themselves to say the words, “black lives matter,” don’t, in fact, believe they do matter. I say this because so many of the folks I know who insisted we can only say, “all lives matter,” made excuses for, or seemed to be ok with, the Trump campaign’s frequent use of memes, slogans and video’s lifted directly off of white supremacist websites. Frankly, that scares me. It says to me that they are ok with the beatings I and my colleagues received at the hands of the KKK and WCC back then and would not raise a fuss if it happened again in our day.

And remembering when my wife was the assistant director of a public library but received no benefits because the library board said they could not afford them, but then gave full benefits to her male replacement “because he was a father and husband and needed to support his family,” I pledge allegiance to the Feminist Movement. I have been very fortunate to have always been able to find meaningful employment. I want to live in a society where that same opportunity exists for my daughters-in-law and my granddaughters. When my wife was a senior in high school she wanted to be a scientist. She was a National Merit Scholar. But her high school counselor would not help her apply for scholarships to college because, he told her, if she got one, it would mean a male student would not get it and he would need the degree to support his family after college. Instead, he helped her get into a local hospital’s nursing school. I want to live in a society where my granddaughters will be encouraged to excel in whatever excites and motivates them.

And finally, yes, I pledge allegiance to the United States of America. Not to the white male dominated America of our past, but to the America envisioned by Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, César Chávez, and the tens of thousands of people working today to build a society where every man, woman, and child is respected regardless of ethnicity, family background, or place of origin. I know I won’t live to see that day, but my prayers will eternally be with those working to that end.

And God bless all who endured to the end of my rant.