Republic versus Democracy
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
When I was growing up in elementary school, each day we began by saying these words. They were recited by rote. None of us had any enthusiasm as we said it. I cannot recall a single moment when a teacher explained what they meant. It merely was done.
Later as I began my middle school years, and more independent critical thinking was allowed, and less rote memory, I became a voracious reader. I often would walk the through the shelves of books in awe that so many people had researched topics independently and had written about the experience of that pursuit. I began my own pursuit, combing through the aisles, often pulling down books at random, just to see what ideas were out there.
In those days before the Internet, other than the general knowledge in an encyclopedia, one had no way to determine the over arcing meaning of a subject. Only by scanning through a card catalog and reading from guides on subjects, would one know what each meant.
As I entered high school, I came to understand that we often said words in pledges and creeds, but seldom did most people try to treasure the words and contemplate what they meant. Most of education was not meant for critical thinking. Most of education was to get people employment. This seemed bizarre. Wasn't the point of education to educate?
If we were here to get a job, then wasn't this a training center instead? That idea troubled me. It implied that there was some Master that I would be working for and that my training was preparing me to fit into a system of Masters.
Being a very spiritual person even from age six, I felt I had one Master in the Source and the Son and the Spirit:the three faces of my Master. Other than that, all others were allies that I might align myself with.
From my readings, I could see that there were times when individuals did yield to a person who had more power. Those were typically based upon feudalism and monarchy. Since I was an American, that idea was abhorrent to me. It smacked of slavery.
To be sure, there were people who were superior to me in strength, wisdom, intellect, or economics, but still as a whole, I looked at no one as my Master save my Sovereign Lord Jesus. Anyone who I placed in between that relationship would break the continuity of that relationship. One cannot serve two Masters. I might greatly admire others, even yield to their mentorship, but never considered them real Masters.
What then are we to make of this pledge of allegiance? What does it mean? For anyone not religious or American, you'll have to bear with me as I digress. Please read this though, as I believe it offers a great paradigm for a system of governance, well suited for living in community, and benevolent to all.
A pledge is a sincere promise, an auditory declaration of our sincere word. When we say the pledge, we are giving our word...aloud. Since one cannot know the interior thoughts of others, but can determine some hint of them in the actions of others, a declaration of those thoughts is faster and succinctly explains interior motives.
A pledge of allegiance is a sincere promise to ally ourselves to something. In this case, a symbol of the nation of America. If we rewrote it, we might merely say I pledge to ally myself with the United States of America. This is a remarkable series of words. It implies a hierarchy. I as an individual ally myself to series of different organized communities that make up a united nation. If is not saying I give away my freedom. It doesn't say I am a slave to the United States of America. I am not transferring my power. It says that each of us is an individual, and that we have personal freedom, and we apply that in alliance with a hierarchy form of government.
... and to the Republic for which it stands...
What is a Republic? A republic is a form of government in which the “sovereignty is derived from the individual”. The authority from which our government arises comes from us, the individuals that make up this nation.
What then is a Democracy? That word is used so often, while the word which we pledge our sincerity from seems to hide in the shadows. A democracy is a form of government which authority arises from the group. I never have pledged to ally with this form of government. It would mean that I think of my power as coming from a tribe or community, and that is not what we are. We are not joined together like the Borg, a mental collective.
I may think of myself as being a certain ethnicity, but in reality I am myself. I may associate myself as a Christian of a certain sect, but I am myself.
I may think of myself as a certain age, but in reality I am myself.
None of those communities thinks like me. I have my own thoughts, and live in community with them, and share in their resources and add my own, but I cannot by definition be them. I am singular, but they and I are plural.
...one Nation under God...
There are further parts of the hierarchy. The Patriots who created our country felt that our individual freedoms arose from the Source of all Creation. This is very easy for me to believe. No nation gives me that freedom, it is freely given to me by the Source by my birth. No person or institution gave me freedom.
It cannot be divided. The distinction of the hierarchy are artificial affectations to imply levels for our understanding. All of us are part of creation, and from that, those who live in the USA are governed by a republic that works as states working together. Those states are communities of individuals, who give the authority to the nation.
... with liberty and justice for all...
We as individuals have allied to ensure the freedom of each person and the justice of each person. That's a very noble idea. It doesn't say with liberty and justice for the USA. It says all. It means that what we're supposed to be doing is working so that all people have freedom and justice, both within our nation and without.
That pledge is very worthy of anyone to treasure and consider. It's so noble that it's worth fighting for...for ourselves...for our states...for our nation...for the world.
If we pledged our allegiance to a group and derived our authority from a group, then liberty or freedom would mean nothing. If the group is more important than we are not truly free. The group becomes our Master. I would never pledge such a thing. That's not what our founders intended.
Anyone who would take away the freedom of the individual, would in reality be a traitor, even those proclaiming authority.
See further legal definitions of a republic form of government versus a democracy here.
[link to www.1215.org