(or) Patriotism as a Pagan Value
Friends, Pagani, Citizens,
I will be reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,
“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.”
As is recited at the beginning of each school day by school children. (of course I will be modifying the “under God” to “under the Gods”…)
Actually though I am a little dis-satisfied with the Pledge, and not for it’s outright monotheism, although that does rankle a bit!
It seems to me that as an oath or statement it binds me to the Flag and the Republic, but not to my nations core values. Now the Pledge does discuss the ideas of Liberty and Justice, but only as presumed and inherent qualities of the nation, not as the ideals or goals of the nation. The Pledge assumes that the Republic is always enacting Liberty and Justice for all, which while it is our goal, well, we have not always succeeded. We can look at the history of the United States and through lenses like the Civil War, and the Trail of Tears, and even the Iron Jawed Angels, we can see that our Nation continues to struggle towards perfecting the union. The pledge seems to ignore our continuing stuggle in favor of a jingoistic “My Nation Right or Wrong” attitude that to me seems at its heart terribly un-American.
(to delve into the patriotic post-Bicentennial patios of my youth…)
Which is why I will also honor Flag Day by reciting the American’s Creed,
I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
Which I discovered in my continuing studies and exploration in the Religio Americana. What I like about the Creed, as opposed to the Pledge, is that it is much more grounded in the ideals and intended workings of the U.S., and our Constitution and other founding documents.
Now you may be wondering about my turn of phrase Religio Americana… The Religio Americana both as a U.S. Pagan approach to Patriotism, and the discussion group, evolved out of a couple of discussions in the old Beliefnet forums. (here and here)
Basically, what started as a discussion of whether recon Pagans of the Greek and Roman stripe should make some sort of token observances of Christianity in those places where Christianity is the State religion, evolved into discussions of how the Romans and other ancient Pagans honored their Nation States (those that had them), and the question of to what degree should/could/might/do we contemporary Pagans do so?
Religio Americana, and other forms of Pagan Patriotism, are grounded ~like so much of the Pagan paths~ in practice. I pour libations and light incense on Memorial Day and U.S. Independence Day, I will make offerings to the guiding and guardian Spirits of the current President and various Senators, Congressmen, and other Civil Servants, I will pour libations to the Heroes and Founders of my Nation; and I will raise my glass in toast (at the very blessed least) on Veteran’s Day!
All of these are practices with a long and ancient Pagan lineage.
I’ve ranted along this general line before, but you needn’t take only my word for it! You can see the Pagan (and Heathen!) value of Patriotism exemplified in so many ways in words and actions by many of our fellow Pagans across a number of paths!
So Peace, and a Happy U.S. Flag Day!