Monday, September 19, 2005

Small Mindedness

Federal Court in California ruled that the "Pledge of Allegiance" is unconstitutional because of the inclusion of the phrase "under God." The person who brought the case to trial is Michael Newdow, an avowed atheist who said he was offended by the phrase. But I am clueless as to why Mr. Newdow is offended - and so offended that he put considerable resource (time and money) to fight it.
Like Mr. Newdow, I am not a Christian. But I am not an atheist. I am a Buddhist by faith. And my religion is best described as agnostic. Our scripture does not mentions the Creator. We do not affirm or deny the existence of God. Therefore "under God" is not a part of my tradition either. But I am not offended by the phrase "under God" and readers would find that no Buddhist would be offended by it either. Why would I be offended by someone else expression of faith. And saying "under God" in the pledge of allegiance does not degrade my religious belief in any way.
Perhap Mr. Newdow is a small man who is offended by the belief of others that are different from his. Let call his attitude what it really is - intolerance and bigotry. Of a million things to be offended on this world, he decide that this issue offend him. Perhap I can offer him other issues to be offended about - issues far more worthy of his zeal in protest. Let start with the genocide in Darfur where thousand of peoples are dying on a daily basic. Does it not offend to him? Michael Newdow can also be offended by the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia. If that is not enough for him, the murderous rampage of Islamofacists around the world. And if he want something closer to home, how about the Government of New London bulldozing people homes to profit big cooperation. Or if he want something that personally affect him, how about his hard earned tax money being used to built roads to nowhere or pay for farmers to grow nothing. Any of the preceeding issues are far more worthy of outrage than "under God" in the pledge of allegiance.
The Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote about the dynamiting of Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He chided commentators and pundits for their misdirect outrages. They were quite outrages by what they deem as destruction of valuable arts. He scolded them that instead of being outrage about inanimate stones and rocks, they should be more outrages about the treatment of women in Afghanistan - who are flesh and bones.

11 Comments:

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4:53 PM  
Blogger FreeThinker said...

Despite your personal attacks against Mr. Newdow, and despite larger problems in the world, it is still wrong to coerce public schoolchildren to pledge that they are "Under God."

4:55 PM  
Blogger Triet said...

Thank you. You are correct. A teacher of mine once told me that "he who looks for offense shall find it." This world, and Mr. Newdow, spends far too much time looking for ways to be offended, instead of looking for ways to stop true tragedies that are unfolding in front of us every day.

I have never heard a quote of the most venerable Thich Nhat Hanh that I did not agree with, and I definitely agree with the quote you shared.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Sportin' Life said...

Perhap Mr. Newdow is a small man who is offended by the belief of others that are different from his. Let call his attitude what it really is - intolerance and bigotry.

I can't speak for Michael Newdow, but as I understand it what offends him is not other people's beliefs, but the fact that other people's beliefs have been made an officially sanctioned requirement of American patriotism. Daily public school recitations about so-and-so's god do appear to go directly against the tradition and spirit of religious freedom in this country.

And I'm not sure how you conclude that Michael Newdow doesn't, in fact, care about the other important issues you raise--Darfur, women's rights, the disproportionate power of the wealthy, etc. He may have quite strong opinions about all of these things. In any case, is it for you to say what his priorities should be? The same illogical charge you make against him could just as well be made against those who are expending time and energy to defend the pledge, couldn't it?

Whatever reasons he had to bring the lawsuit, they're his own. And they're irrelevant to the constitutional issue itself.

You never do get around to saying what you think the outcome of the case should be. Arguing that Newdow shouldn't raise the issue at all because you wouldn't raise it just avoids the question.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Minh-Duc said...

Freethinker: The option of not saying the pledge of allegiance has alway been available. No one is being coerced.

Sportin' Life: It is Mr. Newdow who innitiated the lawsuit so he is the object of my criticism. If the pledge orriginally has no "under God" in it (at one point it did) and the otherside innitiate action (with equal zeal) to have it put in, they would also receive my criticism.

I have as much right to have input in priorities. If Mr. Newdow get his way, then Congress have to break away from important works (we are in a misd of a war and a natural diaster) to rewrite the pledge of allegiance. More importantly, it draw people attention from real issues of real substance.

As far as what I think what the outcome should be. I do not have a dog in this fight. You might as well ask me if I think the wall of the Senate should be red or blue. Who care! This is the gist of my writing - that the issue is so unimportant and minor that anyone who get upset over it is a small minded person. Imagine if people are suing because the wall of the Senate is red and not blue.

8:34 AM  
Blogger j.d. said...

Excellent post. I'm putting it in RINO Sightings.

9:25 AM  
Blogger JLW said...

It is true that children are supposed to have the option to decline to make the pledge of allegiance. But they shouldn't even be asked to pledge their fealty to a government-sanctioned god in the first place.

Poverty and sickness are excellent causes -- I agree with you there. But, I also think that fighting for freedom of religion in the United States is a very worthwhile endeavor, as well.

I'll save our busy members of Congress some valuable time by restoring the pledge for them:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Sounds beautiful to me.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Jeffrey said: It is true that children are supposed to have the option to decline to make the pledge of allegiance. But they shouldn't even be asked to pledge their fealty to a government-sanctioned god in the first place.

Poverty and sickness are excellent causes -- I agree with you there. But, I also think that fighting for freedom of religion in the United States is a very worthwhile endeavor, as well.


Technically, the pledge doesn't pledge fealty to a government-sanctioned god.

Second, fighting for freedom of religion is one thing. Fighting for freedom from religion is quite another. The real problem I have with the likes of Newdow is that he seems to believe that he has a right to not being offended. He's living in the wrong country with that type of expectation.

Although I believe in a God, I'm in the same boat as Minh-Duc on this. I don't have a real dog in this fight, and it wouldn't bother me to see the reference to God removed from both the pledge and our money. I don't think God is real impressed that his name is used in either fashion, and probably is more offended that people recite his name out of habit than by fealty.

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