Five visitors from Germany were guests of an international service club recently where my friend Steve Shoemaker is a member.After the meeting, they asked Steve some questions.
Why ask Steve?
For starters, he’s 6’8″ and he’s up for Club President soon…unless he’s impeached before taking office for his Letter to the Editor.
Five folks from Germany recently visited central Illinois as part of a local service club program to improve international understanding.
At one point they asked me about something they did not understand: why do Americans begin so many gatherings with a ‘”patriotic” song, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a prayer?
As foreign visitors, of course, they felt excluded from at least the first two–often at events designed supposedly to welcome them… And if from a non-Christian religious tradition, they felt excluded from all three.
Perhaps especially because they were from Germany, remembering the horrors of two world wars begun partly from excessive beliefs in the superiority of their nation and religion, they were sensitive to expressions of exceptionalism at U.S.A. sports events and service club meetings.
Can we welcome others better by showing the American virtue of hospitality, finding rituals that affirm the equality of all, and treating others the way we wish to be treated?
Steve’s an affable chap and hard not to like. At the next meeting Steve and some of the members had a nice chat. There’d been some conversation, they had a different opinion, they said, and the good thing was they were all free to disagree.
Click HERE for a quick history lesson on the evolving text of the Pledge of Allegiance.
What do YOU think? Chime in with a comment to expand the discussion. I’ll send them to Steve for the next meeting.