Oaths

oath.jpg I’ve still not been think­ing about much, late­ly. So I’m pulling out a top­ic I’ve had in stor­age for a while. I had Ethiopian food this week­end, Kitfo is spiced raw beef that looks like vis­cera and Ethiopian bread is like zom­bie flesh. And it was all tasty But I’m not writ­ing on that.

I don’t think oaths are tak­en near­ly as se­ri­ous­ly as they used to be. I dis­tin­guish an Oath from a Promise by the fact that an Oath is tak­en be­fore wit­ness­es and is slight­ly more of­fi­cial than Promising not to tell mom about the bro­ken lamp.

1. The Pledge of Allegiance [Note: I chose this site in par­tic­u­lar be­cause you can hear John Wayne re­cite the pledge. How droll.] I’ve been say­ing the pledge since I was old enough to enun­ci­ate clear­ly in grade school. I nev­er re­al­ly un­der­stood what it meant and I feel that it is a mean­ing­less recita­tion to say some­thing you don’t un­der­stand, at an age too young to un­der­stand it, near in­finite times. It cheap­ens the oath. I think the Pledge should be said on­ce, up­on adult­hood as a pre­req­ui­site for vot­ing. This would make it at least not so cheap­ly come by and then per­haps the per­son say­ing it would have some idea what it meant, even if they don’t be­lieve it [which gets ad­dressed at the end here].

2. The Nicene Creed is al­so known as the Profession of Faith in Roman Catholicism. I’ve been say­ing this just as long as I’ve been say­ing the pledge and it was just as mean­ing­less to me un­til I took the time a few years ago to fig­ure out what ex­act­ly it all meant. If I’m say­ing the­se things, I thought, then I had bet­ter damn well know what I’m say­ing I be­lieve in. Rote mem­o­riza­tion and recita­tion [like with the pledge] don’t add un­der­stand­ing or be­lief.

3. Marriage Vows [Now Easily Fillable!] This should be rather ob­vi­ous I sup­pose. I think if you pledge your life to some­one then you’d bet­ter damn well do it. This isn’t to be tak­en as a gibe at di­vorced folks and it is prob­a­bly easy for me to say this, not hav­ing ever been mar­ried. Still, when I reach that point, I plan on do­ing so with the full knowl­edge that its per­ma­nent and that the girl un­lucky enough to agree to mar­ry me knows the same thing.

4. Presidential Oath of Office This Oath is sim­ple and al­so very com­plex, but all too of­ten I think Presidents just toss this out as if it was some sort of troglodyt­ic ves­ti­gia from days when hon­or and in­tegri­ty had non-trite mean­ings. I’ve not seen much ‘faith­ful’ ex­e­cu­tion of the of­fice or much de­fense of the Constitution for that mat­ter.

Anyway, what I’m get­ting at is that peo­ple don’t seem to have a sense of ‘hon­or and in­tegri­ty’ any longer. All this might sound very con­ser­v­a­tive but if I learned any­thing in an­thro­pol­o­gy it is that rel­a­tivism [cul­tur­al] is just as dan­ger­ous as cen­trism [eth­no]. It seems quite easy for peo­ple to toss off a vow at this or that and think noth­ing of it, be­cause I sup­pose, they’ve nev­er learned just how se­ri­ous such a thing should be. This be­comes eas­ier and eas­ier to do over time be­cause af­ter a while there is no one around who feels that an Oath is im­por­tant and to call some­one out on break­ing one. Except crazy fundies, I sup­pose. This could be fleshed out more I sup­pose but I’m too lazy at the mo­ment.

5 thoughts on “Oaths

  1. Re: Marriage vows. Patrick and I wrote our own so they would fit us and mean more than just the stan­dard for bet­ter or worse in sick­ness and in health.

  2. I agree 100%. Along the same lines, a promise isn’t re­al­ly a promise the­se days ei­ther. Even I’ve been guilty of that.

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