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Yesterday a Facebook friend was trying to convince others, via her status, that Pepsi was debuting a new can that included the whole Pledge of Allegiance except for the words “under God” (the HEATHENS!).  We were all supposed to put this in our statuses and NEVER EVER drink that devilish drink AGAIN!

Now I know very well by now that 99.9% of such internet claims are lies.  Some are feel-good lies, like all those sappy “inspirational” stories that are mostly just not true or are exaggerated for effect.  I don’t usually bother bursting anyone’s bubble over those.  But others, like this one, damage the reputations of individuals and businesses.  It only takes a few seconds to go to Snopes and check their validity, and so I always do and always will, even if I hated Pepsi and wished the company would go out of business!  Because, you know, truth is important, and if you have to tell lies to bolster your argument (now I’m thinking of political email forwards) then maybe you need to reconsider your position.

Anyway, the Snopes article did mention that the words “under God” are a late addition to the Pledge anyway, which I think I knew but had forgotten.  And since it’s truthful to say that our nation IS under God (because isn’t everything?) I think it’s a fine addition and I’m proud to say it.

However, this got me thinking about the Pledge, and about a practice that you might be surprised that I object to.  Frequently, at gatherings of pro-life folks, the Pledge is recited, with a postscript at the end:  “with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn.”  I don’t like that addition, and I won’t say it.  And you know why?  Because it isn’t true.  And no amount of saying it is going to make it true.

You might argue that even the “with liberty and justice for all”  part isn’t true, you anti-American you!  But even if it isn’t always true, it’s supposed to be.  Our laws support that ideal for the most part, as do our courts.  On the other hand, our laws explicitly reject liberty and justice for the unborn.

When we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, we are pledging allegiance to a government that has said it is okay to abort babies up until the day they are born.  That is simply a fact.  It is a government that has allowed and sanctioned and approved and codified many other things, some that I object to and some that you do.  I love my country and will continue to pledge allegiance to it, but that doesn’t make me blind to its faults, nor is it unpatriotic of me to think some changes are in order.

What do people mean when they say the Pledge in this altered way?  Are they saying that they aren’t really pledging allegiance to this country, but that they will if the abortion laws are changed?  Are they just pretending that what they wish was true is true?  They cannot claim that they are pledging allegiance to some sort of ideal that the flag itself symbolizes, because the pledge makes it quite clear that those reciting it are pledging allegiance to the country as well.

I know pro-lifers well, because I am one.  And I know many of them have worked tirelessly for changes in the country’s abortion laws.  But adding a phrase to the Pledge that amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking is at best pointless and at worst dishonest and counterproductive.

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One way to help

Katie’s co-workers at Ackermann PR have asked friends to pass along this link which has information on how people can contribute to a fund to help the family with the financial burdens which they will be facing on top of everything else after Henry’s 37 day hospitalization.

There were close to 500 messages of support from readers when I visited Katie’s personal blog earlier today.  It has since crashed from the overwhelming traffic.  Hundreds more messages are on her Facebook Wall and the wall of the group set up by a friend of Henry’s to pray for his recovery.  Online friends ARE real friends.

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Sick of Farmville

I didn’t get what the big deal was when I first started playing Farmville.  It seemed like a poor imitation of Farm Town, which I was already playing and enjoying.  In fact, I still think that most things about Farm Town are superior–the graphics, the speed, the flowers that don’t die, the ability to have others harvest your crops and do your plowing, the interaction with other players.

But I went ahead and joined up, because I’m a good sport and almost always join a game when I’m invited even if I don’t keep playing it.  And when I found that I was still playing after the allure of other games had passed, I started to wonder why.

I think that the attraction of most of the farming/restaurant/build your own town games is similar–it’s the ability to be totally in charge of an environment that you can completely control.  Being able to design your own perfect reality is comforting in the midst of a very out-of-control real life.  Non-players laugh and tell gamers to go plant a real garden or clean their own homes, but real life is a lot messier than online life and sometimes it’s nice to escape for a while.

Farmville’s genius has been its interactive features.  For example, at Christmas everyone got a tree (a “holiday” tree), and neighbors could send presents to put under it.  Every gift could be opened on Christmas and it was exciting to see what was inside.  And gifts were also available through postings on the Facebook News Feed.

But what was fun at first has grown tiresome as Farmville has introduced more and more such interactive projects–stables, chicken coop expansions, nursery barms, easter baskets, puppies that must be fed to grow up and not run away . . . these are only a fraction of the recent offerings.  In order to succeed, you must allow Farmville to post to your newsfeed.  Yes, people who don’t want to see this can hide it, but a lot of them would rather complain.  And obviously you can’t hide those postings on your own feed if you want to find nails or harnesses or valentines, so some days half of what you see are posts from Farmville.

I gave up actively playing Farmville for Lent, but still clicked on the newsfeed postings and couldn’t believe how much time even that took.  In the end, I think what was a strength in marketing Farmville and getting players involved intially has become a weakness as players are suffering Farmville fatigue.  You never know how many gifts you are allowed to send people or how often, and there are so many projects going on that you don’t know where to concentrate your energies.  It gets to be more and more like a job and less and less like a game every day.

I am receiving fewer and fewer Farmville requests, leading me to think others are feeling the same.  As soon as I have a couple of free hours, I want to clean my farm up and then close it for good, as I already did with my cafe and several other games.  I’d rather use that time to blog! 🙂

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Politics and Facebook- Do They Mix-

It’s still Education Week, but I’m taking a short detour to ask what you think about discussing controversial topics with your friends on Facebook.  Specifically, since it’s a social site, is Facebook kind of like a virtual living room, where discussions of politics and religion should be off limits unless you know the people really really well or at least know they are likely to agree with you?  Or is it like newsgoups used to be, a great place to say whatever comes into your head and the devil take the consequences?  Or is it perhaps some kind of hybrid, since you know most of the people in real life, albeit not always very well?

I have found myself feeling compelled to post or comment on several comments of a political nature recently:  Health Care Reform, taxes, and the National Day of Prayer.  Part of it has to do with the desire to educate and to inform.  When people post the equivalent of email forwards without checking Snopes first, it infuriates me.  It just does.  It’s like gossip, only worse, because it’s so easy to check.  I never forward an email without checking, even when I would love to believe what it says.  And I usually go one step further and inform the person who sent it (sometimes even all the people they forwarded it to–I’ve been thanked by several people for that!) when they have sent out false information.  When I see a suspicious posting on Facebook, I check it on Snopes and then post the link.

I’m going to write a long post on the topic of Health Care Reform one day, I really am.  I hesitated to wade into the messy debate waging on Facebook, especially since a large portion of my Friend List would no doubt disagree with my sentiments on the issue.  But on the day after the Affordable Care Act passed, I did post:  “Leslie Hunley Sholly is looking forward to being insured.”   Because I am.  And because I think it’s important to put a face on some of the people who don’t have insurance in this country, since it’s so very easy to think bad things about people when you don’t know anything about them or their circumstances.

Which leads me to taxes.  Probably I just should have been quiet when a friend made a comment about the percentage of people in this country who don’t pay taxes.  But I did want to point out that here in Tennessee the very people who are not required to pay federal income tax have to pay a more burdensome percentage of their income in state and local sales taxes on everything they buy.  And then when the topic turned to people getting money back in the form of credits even when they had no tax liability, I felt that it was dishonest not to own up to having received money back myself this year–and being quite pleased about it!

What do you think?  Do you ever make “political” comments on Facebook?  If others do so, do you comment on them?  If people do make such comments, should they be upset when their “friends” disagree?  Should I just shut up and play Farmville?  Tell me in the comments!

A version of this post was featured on BlogHer!  Check it out below.

Featured on BlogHer.com

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