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pledge-aJust back from a family week in D.C. We imposed on the hospitality of very good friends, both of them deeply impressive and humane people employed by admirable non-profits influencing public policy and making a difference in the world. The kind of people who make me feel (through no fault of their own) like I’m not doing nearly enough with my own limited time as a sentient thing to make said difference in the aforementioned world.

They have twin daughters on the cusp of eight, both of them funny and adorable and whip-smart. One evening the girls shared, in identical sing-song, their school’s morning ritual, which is led as in most schools today by a talking head on closed-circuit TV. In the process, they illustrated the pure pointlessness of such things:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God,
indivisible with liberty and justice for all, as a Belmont student
I promise to do my school work to the best of my ability,
I will be kind courteous, considerate and respectful
to other students and teachers, today’s lunch choices are.

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Dale McGowan is chief content officer of OnlySky, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies, and founder of Foundation Beyond Belief (now GO Humanity). He holds a...