I Pledge

With all the uproar over the showing of this video to elementary students I have been asked to weigh in on the video and whether it was appropriate to show it to the students. Of course others will have their own opinions and you are free to view the video yourself and let me know if you agree with me, or why you disagree with me. (I have no doubt that different people will disagree with me for very different reasons.)

Let me say right off that I don’t believe that the video should have been shown to children without informing their parents in advance. Parents are always the primary decision-makers with regard to what their children should be exposed to in matters of values and this video was definitely a matter of values. Having said that, I don’t believe that this was a particularly devious or pernicious video (regardless of what Gayle Ruzika believes).

Some who are opposed to the showing of this video believe that it is an attempt to brainwash the children. I doubt this is the case. The message is actually addressed to the President as a show of support. Distributing it among children was meant to encourage them to pledge to do some good of their own choosing.

If the makers of the video intended children as their audience then they have no idea how to go about it. The fast scrolling words and constant movement at the beginning of the video will fail to get any massage to such an audience. On top of that, the pledges in the video will either make no impression or they will confuse a younger audience. If it is as harmless as I am suggesting why would I object to showing it to children who will be either confused or unaffected by it? Because at best it is a waste of school time. Why should my taxes and my childrens time be spent watching something that has no positive value for their education? At worst showing the video opens the door for teachers to take over a parental role in discussing the various pledges as they try to reduce them to a level that could be understood by a 5 or 7 year-old. Again, why should my taxes support that?

If the target audience was for older youth (teenagers and college students) then the video is well made (meaning it would connect with that audience). It still has the problem of promoting some dangerous biases of the creators (confusing service to the president with respect for the president as one example), but it will always be necessary to compensate for the biases of those who are promoting ideas because the promotion of ideas is a values issue by definition – which again is an area where the parents are always primarily responsible until their children reach adulthood.

So here’s my pledge.

I pledge to continue to believe in the good intentions of others, whether they be elected officials or simply socially and politically active individuals and groups, even when I fundamentally disagree with what they are trying to do. I pledge to  be civil no matter how passionately I disagree with anyone and to treat other people with respect and decency in all my interactions. I pledge to fight for what I value and seek to make my country, state, community, and neighborhood a better place. I pledge that no matter how much I may want something I will not make promises that my grandchildren will have to keep in order to achieve it, nor will I ask other to do so.

And I don’t have to go to usaservice.org (which is actually serve.gov) to make or keep that pledge.

3 comments for “I Pledge

  1. Rob
    September 7, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Nice post David.

    And, I appreciate your pledge.

  2. September 9, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I watched the “I Pledge” video clip and I had no problem with probably 60-70% of it. I have no problem with encouraging people to find a good cause and then willingly donate time to it. The rah-rah for that is fine.

    But I do have a problem with the overtone that was set by the initial images of Pres. Obama. I was uncomfortable with the promotion of specific organizations. While it can be said that these were merely examples that were necessary to convey the idea of donating to a cause, they were pretty much all organizations that hew to a very narrow ideology. Not good.

    But it was just plain wrong, weird, and creepy when they started going off on promising “to be of service to Barack Obama.” The weirdo kissing his biceps — what the heck was that supposed to convey? Power? The President’s private army of followers/woshipers? Simply bizarre!

    How is it possible that anyone could see this and not understand that this is nothing short of promotion of a secular religion? It is pretty common to see anti-theists (and theophobes) deifying humans and/or human systems (like politics). But when I saw it in this video, it creeped me out.

    I can tell that I’m pretty much out of the pop culture loop because I have no idea who most of the people in the video are.

    I would gladly show this video to my kids, and then I would discuss it with them. But the video crosses the line of propaganda. I have no problem using a video like this as a platform for a discussion of propaganda and political messages in, say, junior high or high school. I believe that it would be inappropriate for a school to use it for younger ages.

    As for my pledge, I have long donated many hours and dollars to charitable causes that I believe to be worthy. I pledge to continue doing that.

    • September 9, 2009 at 7:35 am

      I had the same problem of being out of touch with pop culture. I did not recognize a single one of those celebrities (although I think one of them looked vaguely familiar).

Comments are closed.