I posted a news report on Facebook yesterday regarding protesters in NC and the confederate flag. It generated so much controversy I began to look for a wider perspective from which to view the conflict. How can we see this situation from a position that does not inflame us? I ran across an article that reminded me that the flag is a symbol. Like all symbols they mean different things to different people. The confederate flag is a symbol of slavery to some, of local pride, lost loved ones and fried chicken to others. A symbol that unifies must be one that speaks to everyone. This flag, even in its origin symbolized division to the people in this country. It continues to do so today.
I would never deny anyone the freedom of speech and expression. I do believe, however, that if we are to weather these difficult times as a country, we must do everything in our power to focus on unity, on what we have in common, on what binds us together. Our history has shaped who we are today. The Civil War was a part of our history. As such, we continue to teach our children about what led up to the war. We also now teach boldly what we learned from the experience and how our views have changed. My children grew up in southern schools and they learned more about black history than they learned about American history. They knew Rosa Parks and what she did. They did not know who George Washington was and what he did. As parents, we filled in the gaps.
We live in a very large and diverse country. It is our strength and at times our weakness. We appreciate our right to free speech and we exercise it liberally. Conversation is healthy, even heated debate, but conflict that pits one against another is a deeper, more challenging issue. The expression of our beliefs is necessary. Symbols must be handled carefully. By their very nature they are capable of producing great conflict or inspiring powerful unity. Remember 9/11? The much maligned American flag went up in a flash on houses, cars, storefronts, in windows, on clothing. It meant, and continues to mean, more to us than most of us realized until that day. How quickly we can forget. The American flag is a symbol of unity for the American people.