Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Propoganda, Politics & Prayers in the Classroom

When I entered school, we all all stood up and said the Allegiance to the Flag.
Growing up in the Sunshine State, multi-culturism & cultural diversity existed before these catch phrases really caught on.
We All Stood. Black, white, latino, christian, pagan, jewish...we all stood.
At the beginning of school, we were given the purple words on a ditto sheet & told to memorize them.
It was like the first taste of homework. I took the ditto home & had Momma help me understand the big words.
Propaganda? Politics in the classroom?
OK, whatever.
In my World, it was like a prayer.
At the end, I muttered 'Amen.'

Vietnam was still going on, the TV static was filled with it. So was the neighborhood and I scantily listened.
There was a house around the corner, we called it 'The Flag House.' This guy had every cubic inch saturated with stars and stripes. He had 100's of flags. He was a Vietnam Vet & we were still fighting.
Neighbors made fun of him, TV reporters would stand on the street illuminating his house in the darkness and festering around it, like flies on a carcass, by day.
People didn't like it, this flag house, but I did.
It was confusing to me...why would the city, the reporters, the neighbors have issue with this house?
5 year olds do not have years of wisdom & education under their belt, but...
In My World, 'republic' meant that us people, us Americans, us individuals had a say in Our World.
In My World, 'indivisible' meant individuals together...like trees in the outskirts of our yard. All alone but all together. In My World, 'liberty & justice for all' meant freedom.

Wasn't he one individual in our Republic? Didn't he have a say? Weren't we really indivisible...each of us little trees in the forrest of America? Couldn't we let him alone? As sure as Molly had cats & Mrs. B had roses, this guy should have his flags...in my mind.

In My World, of course, it was not an eyesore...I loved the primary colors, the stars, stripes, the banners & flags. In My World, it was pretty and city zoning was something I didn't know about.

I was proud to have been one that got to see 'The Flag House' first hand. I felt priviledged & blessed. At school, the other kids just talked about it.

In My World, Mrs. Stafford was free to let her hair go blue & Miss Vicki was free to go bra-less, Mrs. M was free to paint her house orange & dye her hair blonde, Mr. Plumber was free to have a shower curtain with naked people on it in his work van, the lake boys were free to paint flowers and peace signs all over their VW and this guy should be free to have his flags.

Four years later, I was in 3rd grade, and we had a boy who refused to say the pledge & refused to stand. He said his Daddy told him he didn't have to. It was 1976 & Vietnam was over. The teacher asked him to just be quiet, if he wasn't going to participate.

I thought 'You are so lucky to be in America & you don't even know it. You could have a basket on your head, a bony bloated baby strapped to your back, callousses on your feet, with rocky unhospitable ground to cover, be nearly naked with flies on your eyeballs because its the only water around...'

I realized at the moment, thinking about him & all the National Geographics I'd seen... and my own petty, little experiences & mental connections, that I was not proud to be an American, I was relieved.

And so I just kept on saying 'Amen' after the Allegiance.
Even though I'd been told it wasn't a prayer, I just knew better.


singleton said...


Therapist Mumbles said...

It's great to be free to express yourself however you want. It's a great country where you can meet all kinds of people doing all kinds of thngs in their own unique, individual ways.

It's a shame that our government thinks it has to kill people who may disagree with our economic policy and tell us that they are a threat to our freedom, when they're not.

It's a shame that things are really so complex/

Nice, persoanl blog, thanks,


glorybe said...

I found your blog a few days ago, and have read every entry. Awesome!

The Moonies, the Wham-O slip 'n slide, the flag house: I have loved them all!

Thanks for sharing "Your world". It is a great place to be.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Glorybe, I beleive that you are like those butterflies...fluttering right in, lingering around when we don't even know it, allowing us to catch a glimpse...and then fluttering away...leaving us to ponder...where did she come from? where did she go? what beauties has she seen, how far has she gone & what stories could she share of her journeys?
Thanks for taking a dip into 'My World' I tried to go to yours but did not see a blog...just like those little butterflies!

Orhan Kahn said...

For something so patriotic it was certenly touching.

Personally I love the American flag, it is something you can be proud of. I for one am very thankful and relieved to be an Australian living in Australia and not a Turk raised in Turkey, such as fate almost allowed. I just hate our freakin' flag!

vicci said...

You are sooooo right on! I was living in Thailand during the Viet-Nam War...I would say to anyone who doesn't like our country or our flag...well...then try going to another country and living...see how you like it then! Even better....go to a third world country....try that! I went to Catholic Schools...we said The Pledge of Alligence and our prayers....evry single morning...Amen!

vicci said...

That's EVERY single morning!

skinnylittleblonde said...

LOL, I love it!
Yes, we are blesses to have the power of choice.
I sometimes wonder about that boy...did he grow up to be a politician, an attorney, a non-voting complaining machine, a hard-winger or what?
Propoganda in the schools? LOL, I think not...it's more like propoganda in the home, if someone wants to politicize it!
The school just sent the ditto home, asked me to memorize it & participate in the morning ritual. The significance came from My World...which my home, my family, my neighbors & neighborhood.
Orhan-you have a wonderful point about fate...which could lead to a whole new post, one day. It's amazing to ponder the ways in which your life, your views and values would be different had you not wound up in Australia.
Thanks for coming back to see me Vicci! You have been missed!

Jez said...

There are many republics in the world, the US is just one. Republic does not mean democracy, otherwise, Iran would be a democracy...
You are from where you're from. Your roots are your roots. You don't choose them, though you choose where you're going.
Proud? Relieved? I might say I'm relieved I'm not American, but then if I was American, I'd probably love my country. Pride, though? Even if there is something 'great' about the USA (or Britain, or France or whatever), are you responsible for it? Can you claim to have made the USA what it is today?
Yeah, sure that guy had the right to fly his flags. I don't think anyone has the right to make kids pledge allegiance to a flag. If I'm relieved about anything, it's that I neither had to wear a uniform (as in UK) nor sing an anthem (as in Japan now) nor pledge allegiance to a flag. On the other hand, I live in a country where individual pupils are forbidden from wearing religious symbols (ie usually muslim headscarves). So, no, I am not proud to be French, nor am I proud to be British. I'm not even proud to be European. I'm proud of my culture, if anything, and that has nothing to do with a flag, an anthem, or a passport.

Behind Blue Eyes said...

America is all I really know. I've heard rumors that in Europe the people are smarter than they are here. I've heard that in Europe they think that we are all a bunch of buffoons. But I'm not ashamed to be American. We have good and bad here just like any country. And of course, our good outweighs our bad as far as things like living standards go. Though we do have little sections here that are closer to being 3 world countries than others. But I still don't think it is as bad, though people will try to tell you that it is. I don't think that a lot of the things that are wrong here were caused by me, or even people who think like me. And it is my home and if you can't accept the things that have made you you, then there is always a broken part inside of you, isn't there?

Jez said...

behind blue eyes, was that for me? If so, I'm not sure how I offended you, I don't think I spoke ill either of you or of Americans, and I wasn't even addressing you in my comment,as I didn't know you existed!
It's a pity you chose to answer what you thought I meant, instead of what I actually wrote.

Stone Tosser said...

LOL, you guys.
I don't think anyone was speaking ill of anyone. Original poster (skinny little blonde) referenced 'my world' repeatedly in blog & comments seem to be following suite, with everyone sharing their perspectives of 'my world,' which differs with each individual.
Points I picked up on through comments & original post (as if anyone really cares)...
-Americans can take things for granted, like water & shoes, according to skinny little blonde in the 3rd grade
-Patriotism can be very simple in heart & still politicized. Propoganda exists on TV, at school & in the home & where you are born can dictate which propoganda you are subjected to.
-Releif & pride are two differnt things, both subjective
-That people DO KNOW the difference between a republic & a democracy :)
-That mixing religion & politics in conversation, even on a blog, is going to get some wheels spinning!

Great Post & Great Comments
I found you through Just Give Me Peace. These blogs are like a great chain letter on everyready batteries...they just keep going & going...

Jez said...

Stone Tosser,

A pretty good summary, I would say! I don't think, that sharing our thoughts on these matters (which I'd say are more than simply 'mixing religion and politics') is to be avoided. As for me, it's not a matter of 'my world' differing from yours or hers or theirs. I live in the same world, and I have my opinions, which I try to base on what I see around me and further afield. I don't think opinions come out of a void.
It's wonderful, that we are able to share thoughts freely, and, dare I say, democratically, in this way. it can only be positive in the long term.

Behind Blue Eyes said...

Jez -This is the first time I've been back in since I posted my comment. No that wasn't for you. I can understand why you thought it might be though and I'm sorry if I was offensive. I actually rather thought that I was agreeing with you.
And see, a lot of us over here are embarassed by the way that we are percieved. I remember when Busch was re-elected there was a newspaper in London whose headlines said "How could so many people be so dumb?" And see, I agreed with them. And when they were trying to impeach Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinski thing...I was mortified! I'm not ashamed of being American but sometimes I'm embarassed. Well...I don't know if embarassed is the word. I guess it would be self-conscious. And if Europeans do think that a lot of Americans are buffoons, I actually agree with them. Though I don't think that I am or most of my friends. At least I hope not!

skinnylittleblonde said...

Hi Everyone~
Thanks for so many wonderful comments... I love it! So many insightful & valid points.
On this blog, I often put into the black & white various memories, thoughts, experiences and perceptions I have had in my life. And, they are ever-changing! :)
I refer to things in the context of 'my world' only because I believe that I can listen to the same words or see the same art, or feel the same waters as they next person, but our perceptions may be very different...
for years the alphabet confused me because in 'my world' there were 2 N's. You know l,m,n,o,p and then the second one x,y,n,z. LOL, kind of like the silent 'e', there was the invisible 'n.' It's just how I perceived it... LOL.
I love to hear other peoples' thoughts & ideas...someone once said to me, 'the more I learn about you, the more I learn about myself.' I think that is true & the WWW is a wonderful forum for it!
Stone Tosser-You need to Blog & I appreciate the the summary. Although I don't know that I put that much foresight or thought into it...more like a memory.
Jez- You are very knowledgeable & make several valuable, valid & wise points. Perhaps, too many to list...from 'roots' to the 'same world' :)
Behind Blue Eyes-You make a very valid point as well... there is a huge distinction between Americans & America & the perceptions thereof. I think the same can be said for many,if not most, other places & things...politically, geographically, religiously etc

Jez said...

BBE (and those interested!)

Ok, I will talk about myself, rather than 'lecturing' others!
I was born British/French. I can't help it. My parents split up and so, I was brought up in Britain AND France. Can't help that either. How can I express my feelings for those two countries. 'Glad' wouldn't be right, as who knows, I might have been a happy vietnamese...'proud' doesn't do it either as I can't claim to have made those countries what they are, and 'ashamed' would be out of place too, for the same reason. I love my culture for many reasons, and I despise it for others. I feel responsible. I feel all the more responsible, as my relative comfort as a western European is at the expense of others here and elsewhere.
When the French voted the extreme-right into the second round of the presidential elections, I did not feel ashamed to be French. I was angered, but not ashamed. When the French spout irrational criticism of American people, I am not ashamed, but I am pissed off! And when Tony Blair poodles up to George W Bush, I am not ashamed to be British, because I know, that a sizeable part of the population opposes his unilateralism, as is no doubt the case in the US. Am I wrong? (-:

Anyway, sorry for misconstruing your earlier post!

Behind Blue Eyes said...

Oh, that's okay Jez. I tried to go onto your blog last night but can't speak french. Ha! It's funny to me to hear that you feel the same way about England and France as I do about America. Our press romanticizes Europe. Also, people from here seem to become much more critical of the US after they go to Europe. But I've always assumed that it would all be the same in a way. That we all have governments who are supposed to represent the people but really don't. And each is so misrepresented by the others media that there can be a lot of misunderstandings. And we all have our groups of people who want to be ignorant. I say want to be....because as much as we have available to us, how could most of us be ignorant unless we wanted to be? Engaging with the world in a meaningful way takes a lot of work and I guess that sometimes it is just easier for people to be ignorant. I feel the same way as you do about the people who are less fortunate. Especially because I know that in part their problems are caused by more powerful countries such as the US. In the US it seems that no-one is willing to sacrifice for anyone else. A policy that would make things better for those people but would ask for some small sacrifice from our own people would not be popular here. Is it the same there? But embarassed, self-conscious, angry or whatever...I am glad that I live here as opposed to some other places.