All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Almost two years ago, I lamented the number of derelict buildings in and around Edgefield. I was referring to tumbledown homes and businesses, which have been empty for years and are grossly overgrown in weeds or vines. I am happy to see that much has changed for the better and I thank whoever is responsible for each improvement and renovation. If that much more is done in the coming two years, Edgefield will look like a town with recovering potential instead of a town with more past than future. Keep up the good work. Nevertheless, we still have too many uninhabitable shacks and long deserted businesses of questionable worth, which blight every major road into town not to mention many side streets everywhere. Who are their owners? Have they no shame? Private property decently kept is good for all. Deliberate dumps are poor citizenship.
On to other, larger matters… I have been thinking lately about the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. It is important to say the full title. A pledge is a solemn promise, a vow. Allegiance is devotion and loyalty and an old-fashioned word, fealty. A flag is primarily a symbol of a nation and, in respect to those who have carried it into battle in defense of that nation, it should not be messed with, altered, or neglected in any way whatsoever. And then there is (not are) the United States, i.e., “one nation”, neither red nor blue and not merely a conglomeration of local concerns, petty provincialisms, and disparate cultural attitudes, which change almost every generation. The flag is a symbol of a republic, neither a pure democracy of an unregulated majority nor an autocracy of a self-serving minority. The flag flies under God, a higher power, but not a particular religion and certainly not the particular notions of some sub-set of any religion. Indivisible means unable to be divided or separated. The desire to divide is unpatriotic. A call to divide is sedition. Overt acts of division are treason. When I ponder “liberty and justice for all” the “all” stands out. “All” might be bigger or smaller according to the beliefs or prejudices of the individual who vows service to the greater good. I’m in favor of the bigger. Liberty is at least a state of self-determination with certain rights. Justice is fairness, rightness, and equity. Here’s hoping that the people who put their hands over their hearts and make the pledge know exactly what they are saying.
My first memory of the Pledge is from the first grade. We started the day facing the flag just outside the window. My little mind deemed it to be the most important part of school. Even my jackass classmates, of whom I was occasionally among, made the Pledge with great solemnity and no foolishness. There was even a brief silence over the room as we got back into our desks. Our teacher beamed over our temporary great goodness, which of course did not last for long. Maybe that’s what the Pledge is all about, the recovery of a great goodness in the midst of our foolishness.
In addition to the Pledge, I have also been thinking about Al Gore and Richard Nixon. (Please note my balance of parties.) Both men, regardless of what we may think of either or both, knew when to retire from the fray for the good of the nation. Circumstances were very different for either, but both could have hung on longer citing claims and grievances and shedding self-centered tears. They would have unnecessarily dragged the nation into a deeper mire than it already was. They did not and were noble for it and departed power with dignity.