Reflections about Symbolic Actions

Carol A. Hand

Thoughts racing all over the place –
Happy for some but worried
That seeming humane advances
For some groups while other groups suffer
Without an end in sight
Is only a calculated way to create divisions
Among those on the margins.

mole lake flag

Photo Credit: Sokaogon Band of Lake Superior Chippewa – Mole Lake Band Flag

We speak of flags as symbols
Yes, we are a nation still at war.
To me, that is democracy
Where the thinnest majority may sometimes
Have a modest say
But only in the best of times.
These are not the best of times.

Polarized views are seldom addressed or reconciled
And left to fester until another
Winner-take-all contest.
There have always been overseers of the rabble
To serve as buffers for the gated elite.
What will it take for us to realize
That we all need to stand together as one?


Photo Credit: Brotherhood of the Spirit – Warwick, MA – 1973


17 thoughts on “Reflections about Symbolic Actions

    1. I appreciate your thoughtful comment, Ken. I agree that some things were good (the recognition of marriage equality), yet I’m distressed by our failure to address the racism and xenophobia that result in oppression, disproportional imprisonment, murder, and deportation of people seeking a better life.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. We had protests against symbolism here in South Africa with statues and street name changes. I’m wondering though about the intangible changes that really need to come about? Those parts of history that have never really been addressed, and the cultures that need real representation. Is it enough to make space for alternate voices? What about restitution for past crimes?

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  2. Sometimes we kid ourselves, liking to think world peace or justice can be a reality, when in reality it will never be. One gain, one loss, one lopsided teeter-totter ride after another is all it’s ever been. It’s just not in the human constitution, our DNA, to abide on a higher level of altruism and justice, although like yourself, a few are of True Heart, but amongst most, they simply play the word game, their actions speak different than their words. Though this is not to say we should give up and abandon the fight for a better tomorrow, for mother earth and all her creatures – no matter how in vain our attempts be – for then all that we became, all that we are, is dead inside.

    I like the spirit and the words of you poem, Carol, and the picture with you laughing and dancing with the children bring a smile to my face and a welcomed warm spot to my heart.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Peter, I appreciate your important insights – it does seem to be our responsibility to “fight for a better tomorrow … no matter how vain our attempts be…” And thank you for your comments about the message and photo.

      (Posting this poem was a difficult decision – I deleted it once, not wanting to give the impression that I was criticizing other people’s joy over a hard-won human rights victory or advocacy to eliminate symbols of oppression. But I decided it was important to share the observation that vigilance and unity in these times are essential.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I find your criticism just, if I may take it as such. The “calculated” manner behind laws and regulations knowingly do not bestow acceptance but by their very authoritative nature (and design) bring forth greater enhancement to division whilst affirming and securing the authority.

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