One of the ideas that our Constitution supports is the separation of church and state. Students are no longer required to worship a standardized deity during school hours, and religious acceptance has expanded to allow a greater degree of freedom.
With this in mind, I wondered why I was required to stand and say the pledge of allegiance every morning... How is it any different than forcing students to pray to one specific religion?
So I did a little social experiment: for an entire week, I stayed seated during the pledge and observed the surrounding social stigma. What I discovered surprised me.
Even though it was completely optional to stand for the pledge, it was a deep-rooted standard of society to stand anyway. It is seen as disrespect to not stand for the flag of the country in which we live and are supposed to show support for. But, through maintaining that logic, is it not disrespectful to stay seated for our teachers? After all, they are the authority figures in American educational facilities. And what about the president? No one stands for him, but everyone shows him respect through Twitter wars and unsolicited protests.
Isn't it funny that we hold more reverence for a piece of fabric than an actual human?
When I stayed sitting, the first thing I noticed is that the teacher would not take no for an answer. I explained to her that saying the pledge was optional, but all she replied was "No, you have to stand up." When I continued to sit, she kept looking at me but did not say anything. I was perfectly in my right to refuse doing the pledge, and she could not do anything about it. As the week passed, my teacher became used to my actions and didn't give it another thought. My classmates were mildly surprised, but they recognized that I was not doing anything wrong.
Now, I love my country, and I love the people in it. But it's important to respect the values that the flag represents, not the flag itself.
Anyone can say the pledge, but it takes a true American to mean the words they say. Choosing to opt out of the pledge should not be a bad thing; instead, donate to the homeless or advocate for women's rights. Actions speak louder than words. Show that you are passionate about the prosperity of this country. It means a lot more than mindlessly saying the pledge.