The Pledge of Allegiance Doesn't Always Work
You can't flip over a Bible these days without running into some bonehead who wants to tell you that America needs to return to "traditional values," particularly in the public schools where, the guy tells you, all we need is some "patriotic" history, a little de-emphasis on slavery, the Pledge of Allegiance and some Jesus, and we'll stop raising atheistic, communist, nonbinary, treasonous drug addicts.
The same guy's always big on corporal punishment, too. Teachers should paddle. Parents should spank. Hell, if you hit the kid with a brick, he'll probably grow up to be a patriotic, respectful, religious genius.
How come it didn't work last time?
I'm 64. I attended both Catholic and private schools. I've been paddled, spanked, smacked in the back of my head by my father and cracked across the knuckles by ruler-wielding nuns. As a Catholic school kid in the mid-sixties, I prayed more by the time I was 7 than some people do in a lifetime. I said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning, too. At that time, Catholic school was as religious and patriotic as a prayer meeting on an army base. Slavery was one page in the history book.
I turned 11 in 1968. The kids who turned 18 that year grew up with the same patriotic, religious slap-filled education I enjoyed.
And you know what? A lot of those kids called cops "pigs." They fought the police in the streets. They burned bras and draft cards and the American flag. They refused to go to war. They had sex with people they barely knew. They proudly had children out of wedlock. They danced naked at music festivals and used drugs like you use grated Parmesan at an Italian restaurant. They were the first generation who said they were "homosexual" without looking around first and then whispering the word. Meanwhile, their parents, many of them born in the 1920s, were participating in a huge wave of American divorce and sneaking out to wife-swapping parties.
So, what happened? Given all the religion, Pledging of Allegiance and beatings, why didn't these kids grow up to be super patriots?
I blame abundance. There are very few belief systems that can survive comfort, which is why the Amish don't encourage their believers to get jobs on the New York Stock Exchange and live in penthouses. In the 1960s, steady, stable jobs with good paychecks gave people so much freedom from want that they wanted everything, and they ate everything, and now the nation is burping up the fumes of the feast.
Just whacking everybody in the snout until they praise Jesus and saying the Pledge probably isn't going to work, though unstable jobs with lousy paychecks are sending many Americans rocketing into the arms of Jesus because there isn't much else left.
Poverty, however, may be our ticket back to a responsible, respectful, religious, totally frightened population, although so far all it's done is increase fentanyl sales. Still, once you can't do anything to better your own life, prayer becomes much more important, and as America fights draws all over the world, patriotism is the screech from every mouth that fears the future.
I fear the future, and sometimes I'm afraid of the past, too.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, KIndle, and iBooks.