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 Replies

  • 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.

  • 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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