Tag Archives: abraham lincoln

It’s ALL about ME, Pledge of Allegiance case: Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District

8 Sep


The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless. [Emphasis Added]
Abraham Lincoln
Annual Message to Congress — Concluding Remarks
Washington, D.C.
December 1, 1862

Brian M. Rosenthal of the Seattle Times wrote an excellent report in the Seattle Times about the flap involving whether students at John Stanford International School will be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Keep in mind that both Washington State law and Seattle School District policy require the saying of the Pledge. In, Pledge of Allegiance sparks controversy at John Stanford, Rosenthal quotes parent, Haley Sides:

When Haley Sides moved to Seattle after four years in the Air Force, she chose to settle in Wallingford so her 6-year-old daughter could attend John Stanford International School — an educational community promoting the same type of multiculturalism Sides has tried to instill in her half-Jamaican daughter.
Sides was outraged when the school’s new principal announced this week that students will be asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each day. The practice, which has long been mandated by district policy and state law but has not traditionally been observed at John Stanford, will start Monday.
“It pains me to think that at a school that emphasizes thinking globally we would institute something that makes our children think that this country alone is where their allegiance lies,” said Sides, her voice oscillating between disappointment and anger. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016575845_pledge22m.html

Well, excuse moi. Girlfriend, you happen to live in this country which still has the goal of educating children no matter their gender, race, or creed. In many countries YOUR daughter would not be afforded the opportunity to attend a primary school and college wouldn’t even be a consideration.

Mark Walsh reported in the Education Week article, Massachusetts High Court Weighs Pledge of Allegiance in Schools:

A lawyer for a group of atheist and humanist families argued before the highest court of Massachusetts that a state law requiring public schools to lead daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the state constitution.
“This case presents a classic equal-protection situation where an unpopular and wrongly vilified minority faces obvious official discrimination,” David A. Niose told the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Sept. 4.
A family identified as the Does, with parents and three school-aged children described as atheists and humanists, challenged the state law requiring the pledge in schools because of the inclusion of the words “under God.”
The children have not been required to recite the pledge themselves, in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1943 decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. But the family argues that schools conduct a patriotic exercise that “exalts and validates” one religious view—a belief in God—while marginalizing their “religious views” on atheism and humanism, as their legal brief puts it.
“By inserting ‘under God’ language into the pledge, we have a pledge where children, every morning, are pledging their national unity and loyalty in an indoctrinational format, in a way that validates God belief as truly patriotic and actually invalidates atheism as second-class citizenry at best and downright unpatriotic at worst,” Niose told the Massachusetts high court.
(The oral arguments in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District are available in video form at the Web site of the Supreme Judicial Court, which is where I observed them.)
The Does, joined by the American Humanist Association, are challenging the Massachusetts law under the state constitution’s equal-protection guarantee, not as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on any government establishment of religion or its guarantee of free exercise of religion.
The U.S. Supreme Court famously took up a case involving an establishment challenge to school-led recitations of the pledge. But in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, the court held in 2004 that an atheist father who had challenged the practice in his daughter’s school lacked standing because he did not have custody of the girl.
That atheist, Michael A. Newdow, organized a new challenge that included another family, and that suit led to a 2010 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, that school recitations of the pledge were predominantly patriotic exercises and did not violate the establishment clause.
Later that year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, upheld a New Hampshire law that requires schools to set aside time for teachers to lead the pledge.
In the Doe case, a Massachusetts trial court held that school recitations of the pledge did not violate the rights of the atheist and humanist children under the state’s Equal Rights Amendment.
During Tuesday’s arguments before the state high court, the lawyer for the Acton-Boxborough district said that the pledge is not inherently religious and the recitations of it do not create a disadvantaged class of religious-minority students….

Here is the video:


What do the remarks of President Lincoln have to do with the flap involving the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance flap at John Stanford International School in Seattle or in Massachusetts? It is about developing the Common Good. Whether one believes the cause of the Civil War was to eliminate slavery or not, the war was fought to keep a fragile union in-tact. In much of the world, tribes or clans are the governing authorities. Far from being an idyllic life governed by the romantic concept of the naïve of rule by “Noble Savages,” these clans and tribes often dispense brutal and harsh “justice.” See, Rosseau and the Noble Savage Myth: http://pages.uoregon.edu/jboland/rousseau.html Because of many disparate cultures, many countries are in the midst of civil wars or in danger of breaking apart.

It is fascinating to moi that so many of those who claim the other side is intolerant are just as intolerant. True tolerance does not involve giving up one’s beliefs or demanding that others sacrifice their beliefs. Sometimes it involves listening with courtesy to ideas that you will never agree with. Often it involves acting with gasp, decorum. This country is a nation of immigrants, some were the original aboriginal people, others voluntarily immigrated, still others were brought here as slaves and others fled their homes because of repression. We’re all here together. There have to be some common cultural norms so that those with different cultures and histories can peacefully co-exist. The U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and certain ideas which have evolved over time like public education are examples of the glue that can hold disparate groups together. The Pledge of Allegiance is another example of the common cultural experience. Of course, some quibble with the phrase, “Under God.” Let’s go back to the concept of tolerance. Dictionary.com defines tolerance:

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions,practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’sown;freedom from bigotry.
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.
interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tolerance

The people who find the Pledge so intolerable probably would not have understood President Lincoln’s preservation of the “Union.” Unlike President Lincoln who understood the power of words and symbolism, for whom the “Union” was all about US. The permanently aggrieved often see the world in terms of ME.

In the final analysis, for many who are so excised by the Pledge, it is not about you or US, but it is about ME.

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The 08/23/13 Joy Jar

23 Aug

There comes a point in every life when one is either comfortable in their own skin or they are not. The great thing about the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise is that it forces moi to reflect each day about gratitude and what moi is thankful for. In the process, moi is learning to be comfortable in her own skin. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar” is being comfortable in one’s own skin.

Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.
Bill Copeland

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
Dalai Lama

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
Jim Rohn

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
Abraham Lincoln

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Dr. Seuss

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.
Thomas Sowell

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
Norman Vincent Peale

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
Mark Twain

The 08/18/13 Joy Jar

18 Aug

Moi is three quarters through the ‘Joy Jar’ project. She began the project when the Mayan end of the world thingie went up in smoke. The goal was to find something every day to be grateful for. Some days were easier than others. Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is perseverance.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Maya Angelou

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

“It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”
Winston Churchill

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison

“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”
Abraham Lincoln

“When you get to the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hang on.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
Marie Curie

Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions.
Lao Tzu

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela

The 07/11/13 Joy Jar

11 Jul

One of moi’s favorite quotes is from Reinhold Niebuhr deals with serenity:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is serenity.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Lao Tzu

“Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”
Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

“It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

“Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.”
Joseph Addison

Please don’t come my way with your negativity , I’m living my life in Serenity!!
Marisa Rodrigues

The final wisdom of life requires not the annulment of incongruity but the achievement of serenity within and above it.
Reinhold Niebuhr

The 07/09/13 Joy Jar

9 Jul

This is the year of the ‘Joy Jar’ exercise. The ‘Joy Jar’ is finding something to be grateful for every day. One of the revelations of the exercise is that happiness is not dependant on what one has or will have. Happiness is not dependent upon one’s circumstances. Happiness is the quality of what is. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11:

New International Version (©2011)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Today’s deposit into the ‘Joy Jar’ is happiness.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Abraham Lincoln

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Seven Deadly Sins

Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”
Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.”
Mark Twain

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Mother Teresa

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama XIV