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Under God

By Jack J. Woehr
web posted May 2, 2005

Students taking the Pledge of AllegianceThe words "Under God" inserted in the 1950's into the Pledge of Allegiance are cherished American symbolism. We cherish them in part, I believe, because the inclusion of these two potent words in the Pledge places in our childlike hands a sharp object by means of which we delight to pierce our own body politic. I want to take a side on this one: the words should remain in the Pledge, for several reasons.

The first is that the poetic metre is better with "Under God". Everywhere I've been in America, people recite the pledge the same way:

i PLEGE a LEE jince
oftheyew NIGH ted STATES of uh MEHRica

etc. And when you get to the line in question:

ONE NAY shun
IN de VIZzibll
with LIH? burtiyan JUSS! tiss fer OLL.

it's soothing to the ear and to the heartbeat.

Secondly, there's the metaphyisical calculation. The powers of observation granted by satellite photography make it unarguable that humanity is a disease which planets catch, a sort of global leprosy. Yet Life is Sweet. It's better, as Kurt Vonnegut put it, that Mud got up to walk around before Mud had to lie down again.

There certainly seems at times to be a plan. We grapple with the Riddle of Existence. It's disturbing that so many purveyors of Solutions show such pugnacity in peddling their prescriptions.

Christians believe in one God who is sometimes perceived as Three and who is surrounded by his Saints.
Muslims believe Allah is one, but is surrounded by Angels, Djinn, and his Saints.
Hindus believe that God is one but is manifested as the supersoul inhabiting many gods and spiritual beings.

It's not so easy to understand what in heaven's name they're all arguing about. The prescriptions are all the same, do good, honor one another, stay discrete. Well, honestly, we do know what they are aruging over, it's the priests, ministers, mullahs, all battling bloodily for political power, never for for its own sake. 'Tis always the Deity who insists they bear the burden.

Which brings us to the third consideration, the political consideration. Conservatives and Libertarians, in contrast to Liberals, believe that there's a more powerful Tide in the Affairs of Mankind than the State. It may be God, it may be Destiny. It may be the something in our genes, or it may just be something silent and awesome riding on the wind under the moon and clouds in the western sky at midnight. There is something before which our Cro-Magnon hubris of civilisation must unwillingly bow the neck and admit its utter dependence.

That's the truth, the ultimate political Truth. It's the only reason there can be unalienable Liberties. It's a truth that must never be forgotten while we're building storehouses, heaping up the wealth, marrying and giving in marriage. This Truth should especially not be forgotten whilst we stand in the polling place voting pious, godfearing rascals in and out of office.

The American way for the masses to remind themselves of Truth and to cheer one another on towards political virtue is to recite these words:

One Nation,
Under God.

Jack Woehr of Fairmount, Colorado was raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition; but when on the mesas under the stars listening to Coyote howl, he's pretty sure that he's a born-again shaman.

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