I've been waiting a while to pen this exact piece. This is for various reasons. One of the foremost of these reasons is that I was unsure of where I stood on the issue. But I have since resolved that personal dilemma.
I now know that I am firmly and whole-heartedly against the inclusion of "In God We Trust" on our national currency and of "One Nation Under God" in our pledge (even though the entire pledge is ridiculous in and of itself (but that's a matter for a later post)).
While the inclusion of these two very short phrases in our everyday lives might seem like a trivial and insignificant detail, it is actually the manifestation of a deeper exclusion inherent in modern-day American society. This is the tip of the iceberg of a terrible, heinous and near-national prejudice against a group of United States citizens (regardless of what George H. W. Bush thinks).
The exclusion of such a large group of citizens (and any size of group that is being oppressed or discriminated against is a large group) should bring images of "No Irish Need Apply" or signs on one group of bathrooms saying "Colored" and signs on another, nicer set saying "White".
And that is what these words are doing. These two phrases are giving a government-endorse message to atheists, nontheists, a substantial percentage of freethinkers, and even some agnostics that they are second-rate and second-class citizens. (As was already pointed out, some people (and even leaders) even use these phrases as an argument to prove that these groups are not really citizens).
How such an atrocity can be perpetuated in a country that is hallmarked as the "Leader of the Free World" and the "Land of Opportunity" is beyond me.
The condemning of any group of citizens to a lower standard than any other is not a democracy nor a republic. It is an oppressive state, regardless of how good of an illusion it might give of being a free and open society.
This heinous action has already gone on for half a century. Why should we not usher in the new decade with a new "national motto"?
A motto that would serve all the nation's citizens, like "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" or take the time honored words of American dignitaries like Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death!") or Benjamin Franklin ("There never was a good war or a bad peace") or Thomas Jefferson ("...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...") or even the catalyst of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine ("You can't destroy an idea with an army.")
Would any of these proposed mottoes really be worse than the highly offensive and oppressive phrases that dominate our currency now? Do any of my proposed phrases discriminate against any groups in the way that the old ones did? Are these newer mottoes not fairer and more even-handed representations of our country? If there is something I missed, and I am offending someone by one of these proposed messages, please tell me. I do not wish to do so. I feel that the motto on our currency should be one that includes all people in the country. Citizens should not be afraid that their own governments are discriminating against them.
Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.