A Different Kind of Flag

I’ve had a number of responses to my last blog which was titled “It’s our flag too!” Many people commented that they too were appalled by the desecration of the Canadian flag and the usurping of the word “Freedom” and there were a number of interesting suggestions. One person proposed a T-shirt with a Canadian flag and a happy face. Another suggested we produce face masks featuring the Canadian flag.

It was encouraging to read about Victor Crapnell, the Victoria graphic designer who was, like me and so many others, appalled by the way the Canadian flag was being used and decided to  create a sticker which showed the Canadian flag crushing a large truck along with the words “Canada—take back your flag,”.

https://www.timescolonist.com/local-news/jack-knox-i-want-my-flag-back-says-stickers-creator-5277215

I’m glad that hundreds of people across the country have been ordering these stickers, but I’m wondering now if flag-waving is an answer to the crucial problems we’re facing around the planet. Several people I know have expressed an aversion to flag-waving, viewing it as a sign of excessive nationalism. “We aren’t Americans,” some say. “We don’t do that.”

In a recent article in the South Asia Journal, Bhabani Shakar Nayak writes about the growth of flag-waving nationalism around the globe and says that it is not a nation-building activity but instead is a sign of deep anxiety that is “a hiding ground and a subtle way of asserting the falling legitimacy of populist politicians to convince people about their invincibility”:

http://southasiajournal.net/time-to-reframe-the-left-narratives-on-flag-waving-nationalism-religion-and-market/

My friend Mark offers an alternative to flag-waving: “On my bed is a lovely red maple leaf,” he writes. “On a wall is a flag picturing the Earth from space. Outside are tattered colourful prayer flags. That’s enough for me – bed, Earth and beyond.”

These days separations in time and space sometimes feel reduced because of  the ease of communications. One of the lessons from Covid has been that we can communicate meaningfully and intimately across geographical and time barriers. We’ve become increasingly aware that all the big challenges we’re facing – Covid, climate crisis, inequity, racism, and violence — must be solved globally.

Nationalism will not help us to solve these crucial problems. We need to work together to develop global responses.

We’re living in a time of great possibility and enormous danger. Around the world people are worried about the risk of a Third World War and the possible destruction of our planet.

Maybe it’s time to raise a different kind of flag.

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