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Looking beyond the symbol

Bert de Vink examines the symbols of our society and how they have changed over the years

When I see people jumping on a burning a flag or any other symbol that represents a nation, a religion or any other cause, I can’t help but look in amazement at the mass hysteria that usually goes with these events.

It looks like a resurrection of a primeval instinct.

Fists in the air, bouncing on a burning flag, distorted faces yelling at the top of their lungs. It is quite a sight.

It becomes rather strange when symbolic actions lead to an international incident.  This was the case when a preacher blessed with the intelligence of a door knob said he is going to burn a pile of Korans.

This was totally meaningless because there are probably a many thousands of copies around, but just the same it caused flag burning frenzies on the other side of the ocean.

Isn’t it wonderful that after about half a million years of homo sapiens existence there exists a form of behaviour that is related and still practiced by the great apes?

Great apes jumping on a predator they killed while pounding their chests is not that different from humans  jumping on a flag.

The main difference between apes and humans with this behaviour pattern is that humans wear clothes and apes do not.

I think the apes have it over us at least they jump on the body of a real  enemy while humans dance on symbolic items representing the enemy.

Let’s face it the attitude of I don’t like what that preacher did so now I am going to trample on your burning flag is somewhat apish, if not off  the wall.

The mis-use  of symbols or symbolic gestures is astounding. Nodding or shaking your head is a symbolic gesture used almost world wide and understood as yes and no and so does make sense.

The snake with its tail in its mouth was the symbol of eternity or forever and the wedding ring has derived from that. A  wedding ring as a symbol of eternal love has been in use for a long time and has not lost its symbolic meaning.

There are a lot of symbolic meanings, enough to fill a book, but I would like to look at some symbols and symbolisms that have gone a bit strange.

One of the latest symbolic gestures used in our society that does not make sense at all and fits that bill is the one finger symbol meaning stick it up a place the sun does not shine.

I asked myself who the heck wants to stick their finger up another persons sphincter?

It is very unpleasant to ask a person “would you put my finger in your brownie because I don’t like what you did or said.”

The result will most likely be very disastrous and a hospital visit will be most likely be the result. I don’t want to say much about Christmas because it is not far behind us, but I  just saw a sign Boxing Week Sale.

I like to suggest Christmas decorations and shopping should start Nov.1 and boxing month end March 1 with the song All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth.

So next is Easter which is about Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead.  We think seriously about that while eating great amounts of chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies.

Long ago eggs and bunnies were the symbols of the fertility rites. I think the bunnies got converted to Christianity but the eggs were to undeveloped to grasp the situation, so now we eat small chocolate eggs and big chocolate bunnies.

If we have a Christmas tree at Christmas should we not have a big wooden cross with lots of chocolate bunnies and eggs hanging from it in the living room at Easter? Or maybe we should be content with symbolic nothingness.

Bert deVink is a long-time Quesnel resident and Observer contributor.