Pledges Oaths Vows and Codes
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I have been watching the History Channel a lot lately. I find
as I get older there is little on the "prime time" channels that interest me.
Instead, I find myself drawn to documentaries, biographies, and history, as well
as classic movies (you know, the films they made before computers and had real
scripts). Recently, the History Channel has been running a series on modern day
gangs, both in and out of the prison system, and I have found it to be very
interesting. These are gangs who have gone way beyond the Sharks and the Jets;
bloodthirsty groups who stop at nothing to dominate a territory and extort money
any way they can.
During the documentary, several current and former gang
members are interviewed. Interestingly, one of the main reasons they join a gang
is to establish a sense of family, a desire to belong to something in order to
feel wanted and accepted, which is something they were not getting at home,
regardless if they have parents or not. They are willing to pay dearly for this
too, and voluntarily take a binding oath and suffer through a harsh initiation
ritual, all for the sense of belonging. Such blood oaths and initiations leaves
a lasting impression on the individual who dares not leave the gang, partially
in fear of the consequences, but more as they desperately want the sense of
During our lifetime, we make a lot of pledges, and take
certain oaths and vows. For example,
- "To love, honor and obey, until death do us part."
- "To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law."
- "I pledge allegiance to the flag..."
- "I will play fair, and strive to win, but win or lose, I will always do
- "I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and
domestic...; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully
discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me
As an aside, I find it interesting that all such oaths
related to serving in American government or military end with, "So help me
These pledges are all nice and sound impressive, but I find
few people take them seriously anymore and reject them when it suits them. In
other words, there is no real commitment to stand behind our words. Consider,
Journalist's Creed" or the
"Hippocratic Oath" as administered to physicians. If you read them
carefully, you have to wonder how many people truly adhere to them.
Mechanisms such as pledges, oaths and vows are intended to
define our code of conduct. This, of course, refers to our honor and ability to
keep our word, something people use as a measurement of trust. I find it
interesting that criminals have a higher regard for such things as opposed to
John Q. Public. Maybe its because the criminal code has stiff penalties which
will undoubtedly be executed if violated, and the person knows it. In our
society though, there is no real penalty for violating our obligations, least of
all shame or embarrassment. In other words, taking an oath or vow has become a
joke in our society, and as long as it remains a shallow inconsequential
ceremony, it will always be regarded as nothing more than a triviality to be
implemented only when it is convenient to do so.
It's no small wonder why today we have a deterioration of
ethics, both in our homes and in the work place. It is one thing to enact
legislation, quite another to enforce it. You can make all the pledges, oaths,
vows, and codes you want, but if there is no real consequence for violating
them, there is little point in administering them. The criminal class
understands this. John Q. Public does not.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their
Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-10-21 13:28:45 in Personal Articles