I am currently a student in a class called "Deviance, Crime, and Social Law" here at my college. It discussed all kinds of social and legal norms (and their violations) ranging from body modification to NAMBLA. Recently, our discussion was on an incident that took place at the Yankees stadium a few months ago. A group of people refused to stand for the national anthem and were consequently removed from the stadium despite the fact that they had purchased tickets.

While this act could spark a debate in itself, I would like to focus on the argument that ensued. For the sake of summing up this long story, the entire class felt as if they should have stood. Although some of them respected the fact that they should be free to do as they choose, they believe that their actions were disrespectful and rude. Some students flat out thought that they should be punished.

Now, for anyone that knows me, you know that I don't back down from my personal views. And I am incredibly active in discussions both academic and social. So of course I got involved! Because I sit (politely, quietly, and non-violently) during the Pledge of Allegiance. I have done this for eight years (since I entered high school). And that's my right.

But now I'm constantly being pressured to stand during my graduation commencement in May. Things like "It will ruin graduation!" or "How could you do that to your parents?!" or even "You should leave the country if you hate it so much!" are constantly being said to me. But you know what? It would ruin MY graduation if I stood up for something that I did not believe in. I'm graduating with 400 other people. I'm not making a protest. I'm not trying to ruin anyone's day. And I feel that if ONE student sitting during ONE part of the graduation is going to ruin your graduation, that's your problem, not mine.

But recently my dean, who is on very friendly terms with me, took me aside to ask me politely to stand during the commencement. I politely told him that I would think about it, but that I reserve the right to sit if I wish. I've been thinking about it for days.

What are your opinions? It's my right to sit. It would violate my beliefs and thoughts to stand. I would be disappointed in myself. But then again, it's only one day. And other people seem very bothered by the idea that I might sit. What do YOU think I should do?

Tags: Allegiance, Pledge, of

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Just say that you are a Jehovah's Witness, and its against your belief system to have to stand for the pledge.
I would sit till my intellectually refined bottoms get sore. It'll help you choose who are your real friends and who you should keep in touch with even after graduation.

It's a test, not for you, but for them- whether or not they deserve to be your family and friends.

Sit back, relax, put on some Timbaland and rock out! Life's too short to be bothered with what people think- tho matter don't mind and those mind don't matter.

Eeeseh!!
I'm not really down with the "Pledge of Allegiance" myself. I don't think our founding fathers would have been thrilled with it. I think it's your right to sit. Or you could compromise and stand but not recite the silly thing. I am a patriot in the fact that I believe very firmly in the principles this country was founded on. However, the "Allegiance" is not reflective of those beliefs and I also believe that our country has gone rather awry since those early days of rebellion and freedom for all. I'm a little perplexed as to why everyone is freaking out over this. I haven't said the pledge in ages and no one really notices.
I've got roughly thirty days left until I graduate and I'm not at all concerned about it anymore. I was surprised by the reactions of my classmates when the subject of the Pledge of Allegiance came up in conversation, but that is certainly not enough for me to give up my own beliefs and my self respect. I cannot explain how much I appreciate the support that you've given me in the last few months I've spent thinking about the ceremony. In every aspect of my life I try to be true to myself. I could never go against something that I believe in even it meant some heinous consequence- let alone having a few people angry with me at graduation. But that being said, I don't know what I would do without Think Atheist to reinforce my confidences and justifications (not that I need any!)
I'm probably going to make this more long-winded than it needs to be, but here goes:

I remember being at a performance of Romeo and Juliet (the ballet) back when I was probably still in high school. I enjoyed it immensely, but that's largely because of Prokofiev's score. I had the greatest respect for the athleticism and artistic talent of the dancers, but it seemed that there were moments where timing was off slightly or other issues. It was more of an A- than an A+.

It seems many of the people around me really weren't into it and spent the bulk of the performance grumbling. They didn't want to be there. At the end of the performance, it's time for applause, so I applauded loudly. Somewhere in the audience someone starts a standing ovation. It spreads throughout the audience until the grumblers around me are all standing too. 'What sheep' I found myself thinking, only to realize that it's worse than that. A standing ovation is a tool we have to recognize A+ quality. It needs to be used reservedly, and these grumblers had cheapened it to the point of making it meaningless. Such insincerity is disrespectful in my books. Stand because you believe in it or don't stand. I'm saying that for myself, mind you -- I'm not in the habit of telling others how to live. It was so absurd, acting like trained circus seals (not that I have anything against seals, mind you).

Fast forward to my first year living in Vancouver. I held season tickets to the opera. Second performance of the season. "Ladies and gentlemen, we ask that you please stand for the arrival of the Governor General of Canada" For those still reading, but not aware of our political system, the Governor General is the Queen of England's representative in this nation. I'm not standing for that. I can see from faces in the audience that there are other's who are displeased, yet the stand anyway. Why? Grow a spine; no one is going to yell at you or give you a spanking for not standing here.

I turn to the woman next to me who has also remained seated. She cheerfully inquires along the lines of, "Do you have something wrong with your legs, or are you just bloody-minded like me?' That's stuck out in my mind for some time. I gladly explained that I will only stand out of respect. I respect people, not offices. If I stood up for the Governor General, it would have been for the office, not the person, and thus it would have been disrespectful to her in the end.

I missed the next opera (I think I was in Joshua Tree or Bishop, California). I caught the fourth opera in the season. "Ladies and gentlemen, we ask that you please stand for the Lieutenant-Governor General of British Columbia." This time I was the only one not standing as far as I could see (not all that far this time). I was fine with that, but I think it helps when you realize that there are other people, like the lady who had sat beside me at the previous opera, that still place a bit of importance in the symbolic value of certain actions, and choose how to act on that basis. I would hope that the people standing around me were doing so as much as a matter of conviction as my refusal to stand. In that, at least, I'd hope that there could be a bit of mutual respect.

Ultimately, the consequences of not standing were virtually non-existent. A few odd looks, but that's about it. Still, I'm the type of person to get really hung up on principles.
If I remember correctly, wasn't the ballpark song that the people refused to stand for "God Bless America" (Which is in no way, shape or form the national anthem)?
On not standing for commencement- So long as you did not sign anything or otherwise enter an agreement that you would do so, then it should be entirely within your rights to sit it out if you choose. The school can attempt to abridge the rules in order to force you to stand, but if they do so they open themselves up to litigation (unless they remove ALL religious trappings from the ceremony). The main problem will be your peers. At this point, no matter whether you sit or stand, there are going to be people who will give you crap about it. If you give in to pressure and stand- they'll label you as someone who gives in. If you stand up for what you believe, then you'll be an outsider to some.
Something that my Mother taught me was that we're not guaranteed to live even from one minute to the next. So long as you live your life in such a way that no matter what happens you're happy with the end equation, then you've done something that most people haven't. So in making your final decision on the matter, consider looking back on it from your last moment (whether from the perspective of tomorrow or 70 years from now) and which option would be a more satisfying memory.
For a vote though- I say sit it out. I'm a contrary bastard though... ;)
If sitting upsets them, then it upsets them.

Take a "stand" for your rights by sitting.
To each their own. Do what you feel is right. even though my family knows I am an outspoken atheist, I still respectfully bow my head and close my eyes during prayer. I don't like to cause more conflict then my beliefs already do but in your situation It wouldn't hurt a damn thing if you stayed seated.

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