|The American national flag|
Not everyone in the South thinks this way, of course. This controversy got me thinking about symbols and their use in our lives. Flags are the most well known of national symbols. In America, each state also has its own flag, state bird, state flower, state slogan and so on. Professional sports teams have their logos based on their names, as well as amateur sports teams (usually college teams). There continues to be a controversy about the Washington Redskins NFL football team and their name insulting Native Americans. Professional associations have logos -- their symbols for their organizations -- as well as businesses in various industries. While logos in business work as a branding tool, we should not forget that they are also symbols of the businesses and what they stand for.
|Example of business logo/symbol|
We are used to seeing symbols used in business, politics, travel, marketing, and so on. But what about personal symbols? Do you have an object that you are especially known for? A fashion style or designer? Avatars online become symbols for people. Mine is the complete opposite from what my personality actually is. Computer games offer an opportunity to create a character that represents a person and it can be whatever that person wants it to be. If you are self-employed or in the arts, then you also know about marketing platforms and personal branding in order to sell what you produce. You might translate your branding into a logo that also represents your platform. Or maybe your symbol is a deeply personal one, a symbol that only your closest loved ones would know.
Not everyone would want or even need a symbol rather for personal business or just as a representation. I recently, however, was reminded about the human past and how humans organized themselves into clans or tribes when I was looking at a tartan plaid registry for Scottish clans and families. My grandmother once showed me the tartan plaid of her Scottish ancestors. I was so young at the time that I don't recall now what it was, but our Scottish ancestors also had a family crest as well as the tartan plaid. And then there are the military uniforms designed to represent not only the branch of the military for which they're worn but also the country. They are also symbols.
Let's return to the Confederate Battle Flag. I think it's important to respect the role it's played in American history, and for that reason, I think it's important to keep it in an appropriate history museum. I think it's also important to acknowledge how its symbolism changed over the years, going from the national flag of the Confederacy to a symbol for racism. We need to be honest and open about its symbolism and how it has been used in order to diminish its power. We need to return it to an object status, strip it of its status as a symbol. It reminds us, however, that the symbols we create are fluid and can change in meaning with time and circumstance.....