Monday, July 19, 2010

Words Divide the Indivisible

The Letters to the Editor sections of the newspapers around here are full of vitriolic exchanges among fellow Americans. It all began when a few large billboards appeared along the highways in the western North Carolina mountains. Patriotic in appearance with the colors of our flag, the signs read: "One Nation Indivisible." Since we proclaim ourselves to be indivisible, you might not imagine such a billboard would be the subject of intense debate.

The reason for the debate of course, is that our Pledge of Allegiance has similar words. In fact, until 1954 the Pledge of Allegiance had exactly those words.

The wording of the Pledge of Allegiance has been changed four times since it was written in 1892. The most recent change occurred in 1954, when the words "under God" were added to follow "one nation" and to precede "indivisible." Because of this latest change, many people feel that the billboards, by saying "One Nation Indivisible" are in effect "leaving out God."

No coincidence that the name of the sponsor of these billboards is displayed prominently. It is the North Carolina Secular Society. While we all know that secular means "apart" from religion, many of our citizens believe secular means "hating God."

Therefore, these citizens have begun to place billboards of their own along our highways. These billboards feature the Amerian Eagle proclaiming, or protecting the words, "One Nation Under God." These billboards also prominently display the name of the sponsors. In this case it is an organization called "We Still Pray."

As these billboards spread across NC, they will no doubt spill over into neighboring states. Vandals are hard at work, especially painting "Under God" on the first ones. So far, none of the "under God" billboards have been vandalized.

I do not understand the depths of concern these billboards are causing. Does anyone acually disagree that we should be one nation indivisible?

Reading the Letters to the Editor section gives me laughter and grief. Some of the people think one nation under God is in the Constitution. Others insist that we have no right to blaspheme the "original" Pledge of Allegiance. Of course there is always the point that even our money says "In God We Trust." Many call for the "God-haters" to leave if they don't like it here. I suspect some of the letters are too scathing to print.

My opinion of billboards has changed dramatically since I grew up. When I was a youngster, I loved them. Keep in mind that in those days there were no electronic games, no DVDs, hardly anything to keep children occupied on long car rides in hot cars with no air conditioning. [And wouldn't you know...reading in the car made me carsick!] So as I sat in the back seat (with my brother ALWAYS trying to cross the imaginary dividing line), I loved reading all the billboards and imagining myself visiting all those places.

But in these days of comfort I think billboards are distracting nuisances. Surely with GPS, smart phones, etc., no one needs directions from billboards. So as much as I loved them when I was a child, I hate them now. Given my preferences, there would be no billboards anywhere.

Organizations can spend however money they wish to purchase billboard advertising. Let them go ahead. But isn't there a better use for all that money? Do they really change anyone's mind about an issue?

Be on the lookout for the "Battle of the Billboards." I suspect they will soon come to an area near you. Do you have an opinion about these billboards? This is an open-minded blog so nothing you say will be criticized. I'd just like to know what you think about the issue. Or even, as in my case, if you see it as a non-issue.


Cicero Sings said...

I always feel billboards are a blot on the landscape.

Rudee said...

What a boring group we'd be if we were all the same. One only has to visit some civil war sites to come to the conclusion that our country needs to remain indivisible. The alternative is too frightening to contemplate.

I don't like most billboards either, but the ones I do like are the ones written on the back or side of a barn.

Busy Bee Suz said...

We really don't have any billboards in our direct area.
I used to love reading them as a kid too.
I don't get the 'fighting' part though...people need to lighten up.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Carolyn, The biggest billboard problem we have here near our community is all of the 600000000 billboards people have put all along the major road coming into Fairfield Glade.

It's not so much what they say (most of them are just advertising things) ---but it's just that these billboards have turned the road into an awful mess, a real eyesore.

There were letters in the paper --and a group began trying to get things changed. NEVER happened... Our beautful community has a major road coming there --which is nothing but billboards... YUK!!!

Elizabeth said...

I dislike billboards. It was nice living in NH because there are no billboards along the highway.

I was really surprised by the billboards that I started seeing after moving to Utah. There are many billboards for liposuction and lingerie. I don't get it.

Vicki Lane said...

I hate all billboards.

And this little controversy strikes me as ridiculous.

But since you asked -- it seems to me that the inclusion of 'under God' suggests that if one is an atheist, one can't pledge allegiance -- therefore an atheist can't be a patriot.

And that's not right.

Anonymous said...

I wish the fanatics would study an issue before they go nutso on it. I remember when "under God" was added. I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and even then, it didn't square with what I'd been taught: freedom of religion meant freedom from religion should be tolerated.

That said, billboards irk me no end. It really sets me off to be riding on an interstate and see a giant billboard, whether it's promoting fast food or the topless joint up the highway.

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Aren't billboards advertisements?
I see plenty everyday driving into Atlantic City...mostly for the casinos and some local businesses...then other ones that you can't figure out what the heck their selling.
Around here they cost about 30 thousand a month in prime areas...some are blank now do to the economy...I like the blank ones.:)

troutbirder said...

I'm with the 1st Amendment which say's Congress shall not promote, favor, or discourage any particular religion or lack thereof. In other words our indivisible nation is based on separation of church & state. Perhaps that even protects disgusting billboards!

The Thundering Herd said...

The purpose of most advertising is to get your message out and get people talking about it, right? Seems to me the secularists won this round (exactly who, just a few weeks ago, was talking about this) and the right simply fell into the trap of stirring it up. If they had kept quiet, the billboards would have quietly gone away.

P.S. - Though I sure like living in a country where we can openly debate such topics!

P.P.S. - I always consider the letters to the editor to be far funnier than the comics section.

Barb said...

When there is actually so much to worry about in our World and Nation, why would anyone spend money and vitriol on this issue? Billboards always seem slightly sleazy to me, whatever they're advertising.

carolina nana said...

When I first heard about this I started thinking I sure hope everyone with different opinions don't start putting up billboards along the highways. You won't be able to see anything through them!
I do believe this country was founded on the love of God and one day He will make His presence known.
Blessings to you

KGMom said...

I saw about the billboard battle on the news. Sigh.
I still love billboards--to play the alphabet game. You know, find a word beginning with A, then B etc. in order. You can "cheat" with Q and Z--after 10 minutes of unsuccessful looking, you can find Q or Z in a word, instead as the first letter. The game takes the sting out of the awfulness of some billboards.
"Under God" would be good for U--always a toughie.

Donna Henderson said...

I can relate to your memories of enjoyable reading of the big signs as a kid. I, too, was sequestered in the back seat with my brother. It was one of the few times we were allies. On long trips, we'd start in the early afternoon reading all the billboards for motels outloud, always looking for the ones that said "pool." We'd hound my dad relentlessly to stop at the next one, snivel a bit when he didn't, and then start the whole process over with the next group of signs before the next town. I'm sure Dad would have agreed that we'd all be better off without those dammed billboards. Say, didn't Lady Bird Johnson try to get rid of them? Whatever happened with that deal? Didn't last, obviously. Free speech is hard to argue against. Darn that pesky Bill of Rights.

Jayne said...

Most of the billboards I remember as a kid were ones for Stuckeys. Political things were not put on billboards then. Some are simply offensive, but if you have the $$ to pay for them, seems anything goes. Sad. It's just sad to me.

dAwN said...

I really dont care for billboards. ..that said..I do look at them on occasion.

I believe in separation of church and state.

I may have a religion or belief different than others, and i think by putting under God we are not keeping church and the God you believe in out of government.


I lived in Oregon for a while and supposedly it is illegal to have billboards on their roadways. Therefore, one could travel miles in absolute no-billboard territory, actually noticing the clear views.

Billboards have gotten to be such junkie clutter among highways. It seems that the state highways are where you get the overdose. Travel the back roads and you get the real feeling of the state.

Political and religious jingles on billboards are the most offensive to me. -- barbara

George said...

So far we haven't seen your Billboard War over here, but we have plenty of billboards without them. I think billboards used to be more interesting because many of them were for 'Mom and Pop' businesses. Now most of them are for national chains and are the same all over.

Karen Hargett said...

I don't like billboards on a whole - they ruin the landscape however I believe there is a simple explanation for this particular billboard - it is the spirit of antichrist spreading across this nation wiping out anything and everything to do with God. A sad state of affairs for sure and one our nation will pay for in the end.

Karin said...

We don't have billboards along highways any more in my neck of the woods. I've never liked that they obstruct my view of nature! Some folks still write a quote or message on their grain elevator or barn, but that's about it. If 'under God' is not genuinely in the hearts of the people of the whole nation, then no billboard battle is going to solve anything.

Love this quote: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Loved the story and the pictures of your golden girls!