Thoughts on Symbols …

Symbols … A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences.

I was struck by an interview between Fox television hosts and Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski regarding, of all things, upside-down Christmas trees. For some reason, the hosts seemed to feel that Lewandowski’s opinion was of the utmost importance on this topic …

upside tree

“There’s a new fad, Corey, we’ve got to get your insight on this. The upside-down Christmas tree. You can buy it for a cool grand at Target. …Americans are burning to know what Corey Lewandowski thinks of the implications of such a fad.”Fox & Friends host, Pete Hegseth.  (Seriously???  I am an American and I don’t care a whit!)

Lewandowski’s response?

“You know, I don’t even know what it means to have an upside-down Christmas tree. It’s like an upside-down world. It’s like Seinfeld, it’s like the bizarro world. Like, you can be a U.S. senator after groping people on, you know, a picture, and no one has any accountability for it. That’s what the upside-down Christmas tree means to me. I mean, it’s everything that is wrong. Look: we have traditions in our country that many people respect, that we should respect, that we’ve passed on to our children. Look, a Christmas tree is one of those traditions.  And if you don’t want to participate in Christmas or Hanukkah, whatever your holiday is, you don’t have to. But I don’t even know what an upside-down Christmas tree means.”

Co-host Griff Jenkins had one last comment …

“Cory, can we put you on record that you will inform us immediately if you learn that the first family is turning their Christmas tree upside down?”

“I can be sure that the first family will not be turning their tree upside down. They like this country and our traditions.”

Ridiculous waste of time?  Sure, but it also says something about our current situation.  We have come to view the symbols of something as the very thing itself, as worthy of the honour, loyalty, worship or whatever we feel the thing represents.

robert e lee

Robert E. Lee statue

Take, for example, the Civil War monuments that have recently caused such a stir.  In the South, they are seen as a symbol of the south’s loss of autonomy, the loss of their rights to … well, to own slaves.  Perhaps by some they are seen as symbols of a war hard fought by young men, many of whom lost their lives, but to others, to those who are conscious of a growing racist, white supremacist movement in the U.S. today, they are seen as a symbol of racism, a symbol of hate.  One side wants them left up as a memorial, the other wants them removed from public arenas and moved to museums, or Civil War battlefields.  They are nothing but concrete … a mere symbol.  Removing them from the state parks and office buildings does not destroy anything, but may save lives and keep the peace.

flagThen there’s the U.S. flag.  It is a symbol of what this nation stands for, of the values of this nation. There is no reason to stand or place one’s hand upon one’s chest to ‘honour’ the flag, for the flag itself is, after all, a piece of cloth.  If a person feels that the nation no longer respects his/her values, then there is no reason to stand for the flag.  There never was … those who say we must respect the flag are substituting the symbol for the thing.  Don’t tell me I must respect a $16 piece of cloth. I respect the nation, but the symbol is just that.

both ways treesAnd the Christmas tree, upside down, lying on its side, or placed right-side-up in a stand, is but a symbol of a holiday.  Christmas to some Christians signifies what they believe to be the birth of Jesus Christ, but it is a tree, folks.  Respect the tree by leaving it in the forest!  Respect the holiday, if you celebrate it as such, by living your life as you should.  More often, Christmas is celebrated as a secular holiday by most.  It is even celebrated as such by Jews and Muslims, not as a religious holiday, but as a fun, bright, cheerful holiday, an opportunity to see family and friends gathered together and to spend lots and lots of money.  My own family celebrates Christmas, again, for the lights, the baking, having friends visit, and just the overall cheerfulness of the season, not only the single day.  I prefer my Christmas tree upright, but if others with to hang theirs upside down, so what??? 

I would have been content to leave Civil War monuments up until white supremacist groups began idolizing them and the symbolism became one of hate, stirring a pot that is already a bubbling cauldron.  As for the flag … it represents this nation, but only as a symbol.  If you want to show your respect for the United States of America, try picking up trash in parks and along roadsides, try helping people in need, try not judging people based on their race, skin colour or gender identification.  Try honouring the spirit upon which the nation was founded, rather than raising seven different kinds of hell because some of us do not feel inclined to salute a piece of cloth.

Symbols are just that … they are a representation of something, not the thing itself. This is my favourite symbol, but I recognize that it is just that … a symbol of peace … something I hope we can find again some day, for we certainly do not have it today.


43 thoughts on “Thoughts on Symbols …

  1. Aargh just lost my comment. Summed up: have picture of sweets in Swedish supermarket with the CND peace symbol, wish I could post but they are on one of my Uppsala blogs! Love this piece, fab. Thanks to you (and Keith) for making me think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mary! I will go in search of your picture! Yes, sometimes we all need to stop and think … some seem incapable of doing so, or perhaps their thoughts would drive them insane if they were to look too closely inside their own heads.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An upside down Christmas tree…..Hrrrumph!…..My socialist nose smells a marketing opportunity born into fruition and like the old showbiz saying used to go ‘There’s No Such Thing As Bad Publicity’. Some one is cleaning up on this one. And of course someone else will come out with a patriotic Christian right-side up Christmas Tree, replete with patriotic and ‘Christian’ decorations….yep! Let’s all listen to the Retail CEOs’ Tabernacle Choir as they sing with much reverence ‘It’s That Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ …….Hrrrrummmmph!!!!
    Meanwhile in our dingly-dell home. Two years ago we bought a live tree in a bashed up old pot, so we planted her in a proper heavy plastic urn, and after Christmas put her outside, and to our delight she sprouted freshness on her branches. She’ll be coming in soon for her Third Christmas. She seems to like being dressed up with decorations and lights. Though she’s asking for a bigger pot (as did the two smaller cousins out the back garden). We’re cheerfully weird…so sue us!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Excellent writing very appealing I loved the flag being a piece of cloth and respect a tree by leaving it in the forest. Could it be that members of the green party leave their trees in the forest? I hope so. The only symbols I’m fond of are the ones that make so much noise in orchestra’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a big debate going on in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada right now about just such a symbol, and the conservative Trumpestuants are demanding they be repealed. The symbol is the gender-free washroom in public (and private) schools, and is a direct result of the government making it mandatory to have Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in every school where kids who think they might be, or know they are gay can get together with confirmed “straight” kids to share their stories and learn how to live together in peace, without homophobia raising its ugly head. The government has also mandated that people of either persuasion cannot be outed to their parents in order to give them a safe space to openly be themselves. This has to be some of the most ground-breaking legislation anywhere in the world, though they probably copied it from somewhere. I say GO GLAs!
    But having said that, once the conservative establishment gave up on preventing GLAs to be established, they are now protesting the new law that GLA membership be kept secret (and some conservative teachers and administrators are breaking the law to out young sexual beings who need that built-in safety to understand what is happening to them and their friends), and demanding to know if their sons and daughters are attending meeting of these GLAs (to what horrid end we can only imagine).
    The point is, schools in the Edmonton School District now have female-only washrooms, male-only washrooms, and gender-free washrooms. And the conservative parents (sometimes through their homophobic children) want the gender-free washrooms made gender-controlled, just like they have always been. (Are their washrooms at home gender-controlled? Somehow I doubt it, but this seems to be different.) Symbols, traditions, things that need to be unsymbolized and untraditionalized. The world moves forward, even in your time, but there will always be those who are scared to death of change.
    You can bet that if the conservative factions win the next election, Obama-MaMa will be the hero of that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have long said that your country has better sense than ours, and the government’s action to get “kids to share their stories and learn how to live together in peace, without homophobia” proves that point. I have never understood why it matters who uses which restroom! And I fail to understand why we ought to care about somebody else’s choice of a person to love, a life partner. I hope the conservatives are unsuccessful in their efforts to force homophobia on children and teens who already have enough to deal with. We have the same issues here, but our government is increasingly on the side of the religious right who say the LGBT community should all be considered criminals. Sigh


      • Oh, I am learning to hate that “Sigh” because it tells me you are in pain, and I dislike seeing anyone in any kind of pain. I’m not saying to stop “Sigh”ing because every person has the right to announce when they are in pain, and let people kniow it. We (your readers) know it is not a cry for sympathy, we understand that it is indeed a cry for EMPATHY. Keep crying, Jill, SIGH until the whole world has heard you, and realizes they have to do something to fix what ails you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The ‘sigh’ is not so much pain, as frustration. It is those things that I see as being so very wrong, yet know that there is not a damn thing I can do, or if there is, I haven’t yet figured it out. Some days it results in anger, kicking the walls and slamming doors, but others it simply results in a deep … SIGH. Thank you for caring!

          Liked by 1 person

      • I won’t commit to saying Canadians have more sense than Americans, but I do believe we listen to more points of view before we decide which way our country or any of its provinces decide to go. I guess you could say we don’t put as much emphasis on symbols, as do the majority of Americans. I have no belief that a flag is sacred and should not be defaced or destroyed. A flag is a piece of cloth, not an idea. If you don’t like what it represents, get rid of it. Likewise standing with uncovered head and hand over heart whenever a national anthem is played. I cannot remember the last time I stood for any anthem, including any so-called hippie anthem. If I am wearing a hat at the time, why would I want to take it off? And holding my hand over my heart? Sorry, if I were to hold it anywhere it would be over my eyes to block the scene of others holding their hearts. Singing any athem? Never. Pledging allegiance to anything I don’t agree with? Never.
        For that matter, I don’t even believe in the borders between our countries or any countries. I’ve never seen a line put anywhere by Mother Nature that divides one area from any other. The man who invented the first border did a disservice to all humanity. As did the first person to take a property and call it his private property. As did the first person who claimed another person as their spouse. Sorry, but marriage is as unreal as any border, or private prioperty. No person can own any other person. And no one should ever be allowed to think they can.
        I let my beliefs be known to anyone who really wants to know what they are. I stand out in any crowd by remaining sitting down, or being voiceless when everone else gives a voice. If I happen to be standing, then I stand. If I happen to be talking, I don’t shut up. Others might not like my actions, but I don’t necessarily like theirs either. Doesn’t mean I’m going to do anything about it. I just don’t pander to any idea unless I believe in it.
        Hmmm, sorry if I got a bit vehement in my rant, that wasn’t what I intended to do. Most likely I went far too far. But, neither will I erase it, or delete this comment, because this is how I was feeling at the time. Delete it if that is your desire, I won’t have a problem if you do. I don’t want to start anything that might impact on your blog, Jill. I’m just being me, and this me can be and often is very opinionated.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Symbols are powerful connections to thoughts (unfortunately). I dismiss them, but there are many people in this world who live worshiping symbols!

    Christmas trees have a mysterious past, but the trees are evergreen and a symbol of life in the dead of winter. Many peoples (long before Christianity), would decorate homes in deep winter (soltace) with boughs of evergreen. It gave the appearance and smell of life. It was indicative of the immortal and hence Christians took it into their symbology to represent the immortality of Christ. Somehow, the lights and tinsel and presents carried by the branches of our modern day trees have lost their meaning….tinsel was originally the silver spider webs (life continuing), ….gifts were the last fruits that could be found… Lights (originally candles) I think may have represented the spirit of life….in Christian terms ‘ the holy spirit.’

    The idea of upside down trees… ???? Pagan possibly… I have no idea, but it goes way back beyond our recorded history as to the significance…
    Perhaps there was just no room for them on the floor of a feasting hall! 😜

    Symbols can be dangerous because they hypnotise the masses and hide the truth of much that happens. It is like having false Gods!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree that there is a danger in worshiping the symbol, in placing too much importance on it and forgetting what, exactly, it symbolizes. As for the upside down tree? Somebody just wanted to be different … no deeper meaning than that, I’m fairly certain. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    ‘… If a person feels that the nation no longer respects his/her values, then there is no reason to stand for the flag. There never was … those who say we must respect the flag are substituting the symbol for the thing. ‘
    The best one … the peace sign!!

    Liked by 1 person

        • Do you sometimes feel sad about that? I find that more and more lately I feel sad, knowing that I will almost certainly not live to see sanity restored to this crazy world of ours. But other times, I find I just don’t care … that I am tired and ready to leave the battle for future generations to fight. Do you ever feel that way, or am I losing my bloomin’ marbles?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I do … and much more! My dear friend!! You’re not alone!! I’ve been fighting similar feelings since the 2016 campaign and election. I’ve been battling feelings of sadness, anger, irritability, numbness and much more. I want to crawl under a rock. I’ve withdraw from people … I’ve even realized that, yes, it’s s battle for the next generation. I don’t have the strength and my aging body fails me.
            Before this debacle, I’d been reading a lot about the ‘real’ history of Puerto Rico. History not taught while I was in school. A certain book lead me to seek more and more. The picture I’d always had in my mind about the USA has done a 180 turn.
            This was compounded by the hurricane that destroyed my country and, of course, by the awful rescue response that America has provided to the 3.4 million + American citizens who lived there. There already was s migration before Maria. Now … many more have left! I truly think many won’t go back. This, for me, has been, and is, very painful. I, for one, back in 1999, said I’d never would return. Now, it’s my heart’s desire to go back home … because America is not home anymore.
            Add to this, the awful picture, the falling of the mask, if you will, of the American institutions of government. The abuse of power, the sexual harassment, the lack of moral compass, the perpetual wars, the refugees, the totalitarian governments all over the world, world poverty … what else?
            And there is more, I’m sure. It’s as if evil is triumphant over good … and that’s not supposed to happen!
            A blindfold has been removed from my eyes!! 😥
            I used to blog about happy things, music, interesting info … I’ve lost the drive to do so. I used to follow all world events.
            I’m terribly exhausted emotionally. I’ve become somewhat cynical and question much more what I see and hear.
            Peace? It’s beautiful in the abstract but in reality, it’s too fleeting since it seems to depend on those in power who have no investment in it at all. Unity? We don’t have that anymore because the ‘powers that be’ benefit from our lack of it.
            Yes, I am very sad … I’m having a hard time keeping myself together. I can’t believe that this country is going down this path, the same path others have … say Russia, the Philippines, the Middle East, Africa. Maybe it was always like this and I was naive, credulous and uninformed.
            M’gosh, what a rant!! Yes, many times. I just don’t care. It’s not my right to fight anymore … you are not alone. If you are losing your blooming marbles, seems we are in the same process together! Hugs … 🙏🏽


  7. Jill, I do like your favorite symbol. Remember the hubbub about Obama not being patriotic by not wearing a flag pin? Yet, with that in mind, we elected a President who belittled a war hero and the parents of a deceased soldier. It makes his stance over the NFL players look hypocritical.

    Symbols, when well done, can inspire, but even those symbols can be misused. The cross is celebrated in Christianity, yet when the KKK uses it, the meaning changes from love to hate. Good post. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Keith! Oh yes … I well remember the one time Obama did not wear his flag pin and the fuss that was made! Symbols have purpose, for sure. They remind us of that which they represent. But, when we replace the ‘thing’ with the symbol … when the symbol becomes more important than what it represents, then something is very wrong. If you haven’t gone to either SPLC’s or ACLU’s symbols of hate database, I will tell you that it is a real eye-opener to see how many everyday things have become symbols of hate. the numbers 11 and 12, for example. It would be funny, except … it is too sad to even be funny.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A lovely sentiment to close this post, Jill. There is an irony in it for me. The last 10 years I’ve watched the symbology in so much that the internet offers. It all started fairly innocuously. I happened to watch a youtube uplaod. It was in some ways quite boring, in presentation. Yet, i watched it through and snorted to myself about … ummm, rubbish? Or something? It got me looking though, if only to disprove some of it.

    The film maker. Do you call people who use the phone to record something, a film maker? This guy was showing off billboards with phone numbers, to show demonic connections through numbers, etc. Now this whole notion raised some conundrums, for me. Maybe others might find this also? Likely?

    Anyway, question 1. what is a demon and do they exist? If so, why are they organized enough to do that?

    I’m not a Christian. But I do believe in some, of their principles. The OT and NT are full of references to demons. I suppose once upon a time it gave me a giggle to believe that. What about all those gargoyles on the outside of some churches? People from the east call them the Jinn. Evil spirits, demons, Jinn and on … all being summoned through the flags? Sometimes we, have to sort of wonder about all that?

    The man and author Alistair Crowley, had some strange ideas about demons. I think he maintains that they are summoned through a pentagram, pentangle. He says upside down because the opposite to Christianity, is Luciferian? Why are there so many all over the American Flag? Even the symbol for Christmas is a pentagram star hung on the Celtic tree. There is all sorts of opinion out there. Since it could mess up the head trying to find out about demons, for me. Is to accept thy exist? Why not go with the flow? I mean once you start looking? The signs are everywhere. Secret clubs, within secret societies, within Cabals. Secrets are everywhere? It seems?

    Symbols for a kiss are X and a hug O. So, rock on, symbols!! Let’s give ’em a cheer?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahhhh dear Jamie … you always give me much food for thought. You are much more … ethereal? Not sure if that’s the word I’m looking for, but we’ll work with it for now. You are more ethereal … more open-minded to concepts that I find strange, for I am a pragmatist. For me, seeing is believing. If I cannot see it or touch it, I have a hard time believing in it, which is only one of the reasons that I am an anti-religionist. So, I believe in demons just about as much as I believe in angels or heaven or hell. That said, I believe that some humans are more evil than good … does that make them demons? Maybe. And why are they that way? Genetics? Environment? Upbringing? I don’t know … Freud I am not. Is there evil in the world? Absolutely. Is it, though, the work of demons or of the greed that is a trait of mankind? Secret clubs, cabals, etc? The games people play.

      However, I will agree that two great symbols are the X and O … so, since it is nigh on 3:00 a.m. now … let us settle for XXX and OOO … Cheers, my friend!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Maybe possessed by them, Jillybean? I was intrigued to read and watch about Mr. Icke’s diatribe on them. He calls them reptilian? This following is a talk, to one journalist 5 years ago. Which departs the realm of symbols, into conscious and sub-conscious. Seeing is believing? Like magicians illusions trick our perceptions? Generally, I adhere to the notions of, seeing is believing. Yet if we see the lady sawn in half? The rational part of our mind says “trick”? One illusion or another? Where does illusion end and reality begin?

        Now I know many of your readers call Mr. Icke, many things. For they do not even try to understand his points? I don’t know? He’s not getting wealthy from them?

        The main thrust of this post, was symbols. Symbols are all around.
        Best wishes! Cheers Jamie BTW. Sigmund Freud was thought of as a charlatan, by many of his contemporaries. A pov. I probably share? …J.


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