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Monday, October 31, 2011

Before 'Allegiance'

Today, between vital votes on wars and the economy (ha!), the US House of Representatives took time out to vote on the reaffirmation of our country's slogan, which, surprisingly, is not 'You deserve a break today.'

Also surprisingly, it is not 'E pluribus unum'.

Wanna know what the official motto of the United States of America--a country founded on religious freedom--is? It's this: "In God We Trust." Apparently, in 1956, we set aside the idea of being a pluribus unum, and went for all of us trusting in God.

God certainly has proven himself trustworthy over the years. Sure, he allowed his only son to be nailed to a cross, but we've all been there, right? It's called tough love. Jesus did most everything his dad asked him to do, but God, being a typical father, still wasn't completely satisfied with Jesus, and so did the only thing any father would do: sit quietly on a throne in the clouds and watch his son bleed to death.

The less said about Job's trust in God, the better. Same for Lot's wife.

In God we trust. Absolutely. Trust God will kill you, one way or another.

E pluribus unum was the unofficial motto of this country for, I dunno, over a century or so. The sainted (euphemistically sainted--I don't think any of them were so much as granted beautification) Founding Fathers plucked the motto out of the ether and worked it into our moral fiber; "Out of many, one," right, and that was the United States. Or the idea of the United States.

Terrible things happened in our history, but we were usually working to form one perfect union, a union perfect in its imperfection. In 1956, just as the Civil Rights movement was kicking into full gear and the Korean War was foreshadowing the Vietnam War, Congress decided we were not gonna get a one out of the many. They decided to throw a hail mary pass, and leave it all up to God.

God became the One.

Yep.

In 1956, Congress changed the United States' unofficial motto--'E pluribus unum'--to 'In God We Trust,' and they liked that motto better, and they put a ring on it to make it the official motto of the United States. Never mind a good portion of its citizens were skeptical of God, or didn't pray to God, or refused God's existence outright. Congress, in 1956, decided we Pluribus Unums were not gonna get any one nation out of many. We were gonna just trust in God, and hope for the best.

And, you know, fuck the First Amendment.

Since that day in 1956, Americans have continued to get new and varied ideas, and they've never stopped trying to shape one single nation out of many voices, even when our leaders--the people we vote for to perform the mundane tasks keeping the nation going--encourage us to simply trust in a homicidal maniac in the clouds.

So, failing to pass a jobs bill, failing to pass any meaningful health care or tax reform bills, and faced with a near-revolt of the peasants, the House took time out of its (one would hope) busy schedule today to vote to reaffirm--reaffirm!--the official motto of the United States. Not 'E pluribus unum.' Not 'Out of the many, one.'

In God We Trust.

And I suppose we can trust in God all we want. It's worked out so well for others. Since we're supposedly a Christian nation, we might as well invest in some nails and wooden planks, and hope there are enough godless heathens to nail the population to a cross, because that's about as much as trust in God will get you. That is the absolute limit of God-trusting. Trust your paternal psychotic father, and he'll manage to kill you with a message of love, then bring you back to life, promise you eternal glory, and wait for two thousand years and more to maybe/possibly get around to doing that thing he promised he'd do when he initially killed you. Or not. You know. Whatever.

Just trust.

Shit. All the investment in God-trusting and nail-purchasing and wood-buying might stimulate the economy. When those trusting in God are properly rewarded with a typical God-trusting death, maybe we non-believers will have a sufficiently robust economy to rebuild our lives and continue working to make one nation out of many.

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