What does it mean to give someone or something allegiance? In this country, we are asked to do this whenever we recite the pledge. By definition, it means we are giving our loyalty to some cause, nation, or ruler.
But what happens when that cause, nation, or ruler turns against us? What happens when it demands our allegiance without respecting the rights we have as living, breathing people?
Last night I watched the filmed presentation of ALLEGIANCE, the Broadway musical inspired by George Takei’s real life experience being placed in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. I wish I had seen it live while it was still on Broadway, because there were a few too many closeups for my viewing pleasure in this version. I wanted to see the beautiful and meaningful staging of the live production. But that was my only complaint, as the musical reminded me, yet again, of how important the arts are to our understanding of the world and toward making change.
This musical shares the story of one of our countries most shameful choices–one that many don’t think about or even acknowledge. It also reveals the struggle that comes from wanting to do what is right in the face of so much wrong:
- Should citizens of a country fight for that country, even when the country has treated them as less than citizens?
- Does allegiance to family come first? To ideals (like not fighting for a country that has illegally imprisoned your family)? Or to country?
- What form does resistance take, in a world gone mad?
My journey through this production was one of tears, laughter, fear, soul-searching, and joy. My heart soared with inspiration when I heard this song:
It reminded me that the only way to fight the coming storm is to be stronger than before, and to stand together with other women and men who value justice and equality for all. The fight does not mean, however, that I have to pledge my allegiance to a person who, I believe, has allegiance to only three things in this world:
- his family
- his money
For that is the reality of our president-elect. He does not care about this country. If he did he wouldn’t have rolled over to Russia, revealing his belly and privates for licking. He doesn’t care about creating a more peaceful world. If he did, he would make an effort at understanding international relations and not pushing buttons (both literal and metaphorical).
(For those of you who argue that “at least Russia isn’t bombing us as they would have with HRC”–see the above statement about his rolling over for belly licks.)
He doesn’t care about making America better, because if he did he wouldn’t be making cabinet choices and plans that will destroy the lives of everyone except his wealthy friends, his family, and his own financial security.
So where do I give my allegiance? I give it to the people of this world (not just this country) who are fighting to make it a better place for EVERYONE. I give it to the earth and the environment that sustains us. I give it to people who recognize that love has more value than money ever will. I give it to my family, my friends, and people whose lives have touched mine–people who create a web of connection that makes us stronger.
I give it to myself–to stand up for what I believe in and to be strong enough to fight when I see injustice being done.
I will not, however, give allegiance to a government that does not support ALL of its people, and a ruler who will never stand for the things I value most.
Where does your #allegiance lie?