A pledge for America

If you pledge allegiance to the flag on a regular basis, you’re probably not part of this country’s problems.

But how much are you a part of the solutions?

It’s not enough for us to feel deep patriotism in our hearts, or to wear it on our sleeves. In order to help America remain great — or perhaps even to save it — we’ve got to match our good intentions with doing good.

We’ve got to have a revival of character, brotherhood and citizenship in America.

We need more people voting, for one thing — but mainly we need more informed voters.

We need more people joining civic clubs and other organizations that seek to do good — instead of merely flocking to organizations that expect nothing from us and provide us benefits.

We need to instill and celebrate character in the young, and we need to exhibit it ourselves and expect it in others.

We need to remember that we’ve got a public life, along with a private life. We’ve indulged our private life pretty well; just look at our waistlines! But what about our public life — which is anything we do for those outside our usual circles? Are we holding up our end in this self-governed nation?

We need a renaissance of responsibility in America.

To that end, we propose a new kind of pledge — a pledge not to the flag, but to the country. To each other. We’ve listed 10 things each of us can do to help America. We’re sure you can think of other things — and we’d love to see what they are (write to us at news@peninsulaclarion.com).

Our Founders, who knew they all risked death in declaring independence from England, once pledged to each other “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Is it too much to ask for us to do the same, under much less dire circumstances, for the health of the republic?

Therefore, may each of us pledge:

1. To be an informed, active citizen

2. To be civil and kind

3. To have a healthy lifestyle

4. To decide what I believe, and act on it

5. To take responsibility for my life and my actions

6. To be my brother’s keeper, and do good works

7. To be the best family member, neighbor and friend that I can possibly be

8. To hold my elected representatives accountable

9. To be as self-reliant as I can

10. To be a model of unity to others

These things must seem self-evident — but are we doing them?

Witness the number of Americans who display abject ignorance of basic Americana in interviews on the street, or on civics tests. Look at the incivility, particularly in politics and media. The lack of individual responsibility is eye-popping, and the lack of accountability in government is astounding — the result of our failure to hold public officials accountable.

The good news is, these 10 acts of character, citizenship and brotherhood are uncomplicated and easily done. We just have to have the willpower. And we have to turn away from that part of American culture that mocks and denigrates such “Boy Scout” values. They’re what built America, and they’re what’s holding it together. So far.

Pledge to be informed, civil, healthy, responsible, altruistic, vigilant, self-reliant and welcoming.

That’s real allegiance.

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