Ever since the shooting in Charleston, SC spurred a debate about the Confederate Flag, I find myself thinking a lot about the significance symbols play in our lives.
I have heard people say, taking down the Confederate Flag at the state capital building in South Carolina won’t change anything. But I don’t think that’s true. While it certainly won’t change everything, it is a step. It’s a gesture and that, in and of itself, is important.
If symbols really held no value to us then we wouldn’t even be in this debate to begin with. Symbols are allegories. In the case of the Confederate Flag, for many, it represents an ugly chapter in American history. It represents the oppression, degradation and shame of slavery.
Symbols stand for a concept or represent a brand or ignite certain ideas. Symbols are found in everything from religion to product advertising to family crests and carry a great deal of emotional influence over us, even if the inconvenient truth is that certain symbols are divisive.
We know the meaning of flags is very important to us. Look at how reverent we are about our American Flag. It should never touch the ground. It is illegal to burn it. So, you can’t say one flag holds meaning while another doesn’t, simply because one is patriotic and the other is controversial.
No matter how you actually feel about the Confederate Flag, let’s at least be honest, that to say it holds no meaing, is just not true and to say taking it down won’t change anything is too simplistic. The bottom line is, symbols do matter and we should to be mindful what they signify to us as individuals and to our society as a whole.