Friday, June 06, 2008

A Piece Of Cloth 

Humans are odd. A piece of cloth can cause a national crisis as is happening in Turkey. We attach incredible importance to symbols such that governments can rise and fall. One would think man would be more rational. On the other hand, man has an ability to attach meaning to symbols that sets our species apart from other animals. Virtually everything we do uses a symbol of some kind to transfer meaning -- from the letters forming this blog entry to the symbols of arithmetic.

It is the misuse of symbols that is baffling. A head scarf has a religious meaning, but is it all that important in a larger context? A follower of Islam would say it is. The rest of the world wouldn't grasp the meaning. What is happening in Turkey is a reminder that symbols and meaning can extend beyond common sense. Raising flaps over whether presidential candidates should wear flag lapel pins, for example, is absurdity. Yet, it happened this year. It seems that symbols related to religion and nationalism provoke the most reactions and least understanding.


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