Alright let’s give five minutes to the kid who won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance because of perceived injustices in America. I was going to let this one pass in silence, but the media keeps recycling it. My guess is that they’re either out of news for the moment or that they’re hoping this catches on and the boy becomes some kind of movement poster child. My first (and second) instinct is that this has a lot less to do with gay and minority issues than what he and everyone else is trying to make of it. So I won’t go there. It looks like a red herring. Although what the boy is doing isn’t juvenile delinquency, it smacks of juvenile issue making. I would know, because I’ve done some of it myself. That is, out of boredom or sheer adolescent whim, you do something or write something related to adult issues and then watch the amusing result as the grown-ups around you get hot and bothered and heap attention upon you. Suddenly you become a socially enlightened prodigy. Adults talk about you, some criticize you, others defend you. In this case the kid in question got a spot on CNN. Good work. I didn’t score that big on my best days, but then I didn’t have gay rights as my hood ornament, either. Setting everything else aside for a minute, there’s a deeper current that I find annoying in the midst of this whole affair.
When his teacher told him to recite the Pledge, the boy told her, “With all due respect Ma’am, go jump off a bridge.” Well, there isn’t any respect at all in a statement like that. I’ve told off about four adults in my past life as a kid. In each case, the grown-up was either flawed logically or out of line emotionally. I read them the Riot Act (the youth version) and today, I regret every one of those encounters. I’m embarrassed that I even said what I said to them. Unfortunately our culture celebrates this kind of behavior. Since authority figures are flawed human beings, we think it’s okay to act out. I liked the way that Jesus handled His elders. As a twelve-year-old, He sat in the temple with men whom He knew were hypocrites and spiritually blind. He could have exposed each of them. He could have played the part of the Bible trivia genius. Instead, He was “sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). His wisdom was seen in the questions He asked, not in youthful assertions he made or rebukes He doled out, or sandwich signs that He wore. This lead to fruitful discussion. “All who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47). As a boy Jesus knew how to lead people to the heart of an issue while keeping his place and theirs. The good news about this other young man we were talking about is that his father made him write an apology to the teacher. Now that’s a great place for justice to start. Kudos to you dad, for raising a son and not a mascot.