Marvin Repinski: Character: The fruit of pledges and resolve

Published 5:11 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

The following story prompts me to think. It is a reinforcement for me, maybe because of some Polish blood in my veins, of a pastor in the Methodist Church in Poland.

It is a statement of survival that calls attention to my belief:  Words, creeds, confessions, oaths, and professions really matter. At that time in Poland, The Church under communist rule, gave little or possibly no opportunity to private or public expression.

Pastor Zbrigniew Kaminski’s memory of the years of suppression and following a “party line,” has written: “There were always special visitors in our Sunday services and if something not politically accepted was said in the sermon, there would be an invitation to the police on Monday. Everything connected and associated with the West, and especially the U.S., was seen as dangerous.”

Our lives are supported by, have purpose in, the beliefs and commitments to the potency of certain words. When we alter particular oaths and pledges to be part of our living, our strength and confidence is increased.

Inscriptions such as the Supreme Court’s “Equal Justice Under Law” or the National Archives’ “Eternal Vigilance, Is The Price of Liberty” are shortened statements that embody the vast array of sub-topics. The Christian religion was birthed in the history and the practice of the Jewish nation. The development of the Old Testament teachings are the foundation of what became the many-sided views within Christianity.

Note the following:  In the Mishnah, the oral history of the Jewish law, the story is told of an acolyte who derisively challenged Hillel, the spiritual leader of his time. The young man was told to stand on one leg while he was to be taught the entire Jewish law. Not to be accomplished! Hillel followed up by saying, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.”

There were probably confessions or oaths that were taken when, as a youth in my pilgrimage in the Christian church, that belief in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior was a rock-bottom expectation. What I recall was the Boy Scout oath:

“On my honor I will do my best:

1.  To do my duty to God and country;

2.  To help other people at all times;

3. To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

In a similar moral sentiment, the text of the “Last Will and Testament” of Mary McLeod Methune is:  “I leave you love, I leave you hope.”

“I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you a thirst for education. I leave you a respect for the use of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity. I leave you also a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man. I leave you, finally, a responsibility to our young people.”

This statement reveals the commitment of a person’s legacy, a Black woman’s aspirations printed on her memorial in Washington, D.C.

On Flag Day, June 14, 1972, a popular entertainer in our country, Red Skelton, was a guest in the gathering of the United States House of Representatives.

Skelton recited what he had written.

“One of the greatest speeches I think I have ever heard was when I was a small boy, and we boys and girls had just finished reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and our teacher called us together and said, ‘Boys and girls, I have been listening to you recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester, and it appears to me it has become monotonous to you, or could it be that you do not know the meaning of those words?  If I may, I would like to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and give you a definition for each word.

I —me. an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge — dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

Allegiance — my love and my devotion.

To the Flag — our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom.  Wherever she waves, there is respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

Of the United — that means we have all come together.

States — individual communities that have united into 48 great states, 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet entitled to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

Of America,

And to the Republic — a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern.  And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands.

One nation — meaning, so blessed by God.

Indivisible — incapable of being divided.

With liberty — which is freedom and the right of power to live one’s own life without threats or fear or some sort of retaliation.

And justice — the principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.

For all — which means ‘it’s as much your country as it is mine.’

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance — “Under God.”