The time I stood up for world citizens and Maria Montessori, battled nationalism and boycotted the Pledge of Allegiance in my kids’ school and won … sort of, with a lot of help from my imagination.
(08-29-2013, updated 07-15-2018) Ipledgeafallegiance just changed the lyrics to the song “God Bless America“. Which reminded me that I once wrote my own version of the Pledge of Allegiance in protest of the nationalism in my children’s Montessori school. . It was not too long after 9-11 and my three-year-old daughter’s teacher decided to start each school day with the Pledge of Allegiance.
For my foreign readers: the Pledge is said standing up, with the right hand over the heart, and it goes as follows:
I pledge allegiance to the flag
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One nation under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.
Maria Montessori, who fled Italy when Mussolini came to power, felt very strongly that the only way to achieve world peace was to instill in children that they are first and foremost world citizens, not citizens of one country that’s superior or more blessed by gods than all other countries.
She was diametrically opposed to any form of nationalism. So she would have turned in her grave if she knew that a teacher at a Montessori school was having three-year-olds pledge allegiance to a national flag. It sure got me upset.
I talked to the teacher, and the compromise she suggested was that my daughter could leave the room while the rest was saying the Pledge. I countered that my daughter would be going to another classroom, where the teacher didn’t say the Pledge.
The next year that teacher left, and my daughter ended up in another class that said the Pledge. At age four she had to deal with her classmates disapproving of her and telling her she was supposed to say the Pledge. Or they would ask her why she didn’t say it. I had explained to her why I didn’t approve, but of course the reasons went right over her little head. So she gave her own explanation, a perfectly logical one, considering that it was usually the reason she wasn’t to say something: “My mommie says it’s a bad word.”
It sure explained the dirty looks I got from other parents at the next school event.
Anyway, for lack of another outlet for my frustrations and dissent–I didn’t have a blog yet–I wrote my own Pledge, and I printed out the first two lines line in a huge font and stuck it to the inside of my rear car window.
This was it, more or less:
I pledge allegiance to the earth,
To the universe in which it spins,
And to all people, living in peace,
With freedom and justice for all.
Oh yeah, I showed them!
Got anything you would like to change?
(This post was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “I Pledge Allegiance to . . .”, 08-29-2013)
Header image: mine