Sam stood up with everyone else in his 6th-grade class, placed his right hand over his heart and said aloud with his classmates, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for All.”
Sam sat back down at his desk, thinking about the Pledge of Allegiance. He raised his hand to ask a question.
“Yes, Sam?” his teacher responded to his hand waving in the air.
“Miss Wright, why do we say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before we start our day?” asked Sam.
“Well Sam, when we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we are demonstrating our devotion to our country,” Miss Wright replied.
“So, if we are devoting ourselves to our country, then it means we are against all other countries?”
“Well, no. I wouldn’t say it quite like that.”
“Then, how would you say it?” asked Sam.
Miss Wright sat at her desk and thought for a moment. “Just because you are devoting yourself to America doesn’t mean you have to be against other countries. It just means that you choose to fight and defend the country in which you live in.”
“But doesn’t that create ‘separation’ from other countries? And couldn’t that ‘separation’ lead to conflict because of the differences between our countries? Isn’t that why wars are started?”
“Wars are started for all kinds of different reasons,” replied Miss Wright. “Are you not proud to be an American? Wouldn’t you want to fight for your country? Fight to preserve your current way of life?”
“I do love living in America,” said Sam. “But I thought pride was a bad thing?”
Miss Wright stood up and continued looking at Sam. She was becoming intrigued by Sam’s thoughts. She had never really paid much attention to the Pledge of Allegiance before. She had just always done it, always followed the crowd without questioning why. “Yes Sam, pride can be a bad thing, but it’s not always bad.”
“So, is it ok for me to be proud to be white?” Sam asked.
“No Sam, I don’t think it’s ok for you to be proud of your skin color.”
Sam continued to look at Miss Wright. “Ok, so we shouldn’t be proud of our skin color, even though it’s something that distinguishes us from other races. Doesn’t that fall along the same concept of being proud of our country?”
Miss Wright started to feel the pressure of being placed in a corner that was going to be very difficult to escape.
“The way I see it,” Sam continued, “Is that taking pride in being an American, is kind of like being a racist. Our skin color makes us different but doesn’t make us better. Our gender makes us different but doesn’t make us better. So, being an American makes us different, but it doesn’t make us better than any other country. In fact, aren’t we all part of the same race? We’re all human beings, aren’t we? The land we are living on isn’t any different than the land in other countries…it’s still earth. If we view the earth from outer space, they aren’t any lines drawn on it to separate the countries.”
Miss Wright was impressed by Sam’s view on this topic. “So, Sam, are you saying that you don’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore?”
“No Miss Wright, I’m not saying that. I want to do something better than taking a knee.”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Miss Wright.
“I’m going to write a Pledge of Allegiance to the World!”
Miss Wright smiled from ear to ear.