Sticks, Stones, and Symbols

Sit back, grab a whiskey, and enjoy my rant.

I have long lived by a nursery rhyme I learned as a kid. Most people know it, perhaps not children these days, but the current “adults” of the world have at least heard it.

“Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

It works because of its simplicity. If I swing a small tree trunk in your general direction, perhaps connect in the fleshy part of your throat… it is going to hurt. If I hurl a pebble as hard as I can, a small pebble, but at maximum velocity it is going to hurt when it connects with your cranium.
Did those hurt? Those old Adam West-Batman action words there. Did they leave a bruise as you read them? Are your eyes bleeding, perhaps maybe a tad bit tender. Did you neurons in your medulla oblongata begin firing in rapid succession to activate your innate reflexes to avoid danger as those words reached out and assaulted you?
The only way I can get words to actually hurt you are if I find every reader of this and bean them on the noggin’ with the laptop…..wait that would be the computer hurting you , not the words. Ok, so it is clear now…words.dont.hurt.

Where am I going with this? Remember a few months back, when the new big thing was to stomp on the American flag? I do. And watching people do it made those little tiny hairs on the back of neck stand up and want to strangle someone. However, I understand it is well within their right to express their opinion in such a way. While I whole-heartedly disagree with it, and if I ever saw it I would express my displeasure with a few knife hands to throats and then gladly await the authorities as I own up to exactly what happened.
“Officer sir, they were expressing their opinion by stepping on the US flag so I expressed my right by throat punching the idiots where they stood. I am ready for my silver bracelets now.”
Anyway. So across America people stepped on the flag and were told its ok because they were “constitutionally protected.” Now people are “hurt” by a different flag. The Confederate Flag. It seems that some people are hurt by the flag because it reminds them of the time they spent in slavery, wait I got that wrong. It hurts them because the horrid memories of the time they spent suffering under slavery is relived by the mere sight of this flag. Not sure is that is right either, but that seems to be the narrative presented.
searches on Google
So the 13th amendment abolishing slavery passed in 1865. Lets add a decade for every to get with the program, making 1875. And it is now 2015
does some math carries a 1
So everyone that is 140 years old or older has some horrible memories of a horrible time. Everyone else, is channeling the angst of slaves? Feels oppressed by white plantation owners?
Ok, I admit it. I have no idea what some people feel when they see the flag. I can tell you what I feel. It is a symbol of the area I grew up in. It reminds me of simpler times. It makes me think of hard work, family dinners, mud riding, hunting and fishing, riding 3 wheelers with my cousins through cow pastures.
I never think of racism. I never think of slavery.
It is a symbol that means many things to may different people. To some people it may represent racism. To some people the US flag represents oppression, to others freedom. Some people see a bald eagle and think America, others may think a razor-taloned fish slayer.
Symbols are crazy because they are just that. SYMBOLS! By themselves they are harmless, it’s what you want them to be. Like words they do not hurt. Well, I am sure if I wrap a flag around someone’s neck and throw them off a bridge it would hurt, but alone they do not hurt.
Weak people let things like words and symbols hurt. If you are weak and someone calls you (insert hurtful word) then you might want to cry and moan. If you are a confident person you will realize that…um its a word…and you are stupid…and I don’t care. Then go on with you day never thinking about it again.

Stick and stones may break my bones and I might shed a tear.
Being strong I will heal, but forever watch my back.
But if words and symbols hurt, then live your life in fear.
For you are weak and a good life you will lack.

 I suck at rhyming. Probably cause I don’t listen to rap.

I can hear my critics now:

Of course you would think this way. You are a white male from Mississippi. You have had it so easy and never had to experience racial tensions or racial hatred. Southern people hate blacks and the flag represents every bit of that hate.”

While it is true I am white. I also have one of those dangly thingies that says I am a male. I don’t deny any of that. However here is a small and very true factual story. I graduated High School from a small town in Mississippi in 1993. Most of the country would never know this but as shocking as this may seem in 1993 our High School had the first integrated school dances in the history of the school. gasp What?! shock Liar! disgust

No really, it’s true. See, me and a bunch of my friends thought the usual way of doing things, separate dances, separate senior classes, separate school functions was a tad dated and just plain wrong. So we did something about it. We spoke up. We said it was time to change things. It wasn’t popular at first. There were plenty of naysayers on both sides of the racial fence. Yet, we were bull-headed teenagers and quite simply didn’t care. So we basically just did it. I was Vice-President of the Senior class and one of my best friends, a black guy was President more shocked gasps just started changing things. We didn’t ask for recognition, we just did it. It didn’t make the news, but that’s not why we did it. We changed things because that is what we felt was right. All along we had plenty of words thrown at us. We dodged them, some we caught and threw back. The craziest thing is all these years later I don’t remember those words. I shrugged them off. Words are easy to ignore. Strong people do not let their impact hurt them. When you get over being hurt by words you can change the world. As long as things like words and symbols hurt you and make you hate others, you will never be able to move forward as a better person.

My 2 coppers are said. I’m done now.

About Chad R Smith

I am an aspiring writer and a hapless motivator, hoping to spread a different perspective of the world and the chaotic ramblings of my mind with others View all posts by Chad R Smith

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