Flags: Nationalism on a Stick

Time to turn up the controversy!



After having my fair share of uncontroversial rants (such as selfie sticks), I thought of a comment made by John Cleese while making the movie Life of Brian and realized that there are people that I too want to offend. Therefore, I really don't like flags. I get really skived out when I see those rectangular cloths of nationalism flapping in the wind or stuck on as bumper stickers for pick-up trucks. And the fact that were basically expected to worship them as these sacred artifacts only increases my overall aversion and disdain. As I continue, I can assume that some of you (especially if you've stayed with the blog for a while) probably have similar feelings, while others are preparing to lash out at me in a trolling rage. Either way, I thank you both for increasing the internet traffic to this blog. Now please enjoy this rant.

First off, I want to make it clear that this is not a rant against one particular flag. I'm not singling out the stars and stripes, the maple leaf, or any one of the hundred-plus three stripe flags. I'm ranting against all flags because, when you break it down, they all have the same intention. They're meant to represent a nation's identity, and in turn, we're supposed to treat it with the same respect as we have for the place and people as a whole, which is awful. A flag is just a symbol. It does not reflect the people, culture, history, food, nature, or any of the other interesting an amazing things a place has to offer. Yet, they're presented as if they're higher than all of that, which is absolutely not true since all the above mentioned things are real. Flags are artificial constructions made by various governing bodies some time in the past.

Likewise, flags are all to often used as a distraction. We're told from the time we were toddlers to stand with our hands over our hearts and pay the inanimate cloths respect as if it's something divine. Yet, how often have you seen politicians or business tycoons wear emblems of flags, or hang the said rags outside their house or office in order to convince the general public they care about them, when in reality, they're trying to push through legislation or make a deal that will stuff their pockets at the detriment of society as a whole? Associating someone with a flag to being a benevolent citizen would be like associating someone with shoes to being a marathon runner. Sure, it could be true, but just as likely, the person with the flag could be a manipulative scumbag and the man with the shoes could weigh 500 pounds (230kg) and stuff his face with McDonalds every day. Unfortunately, we often fail to realize the all too prevalent second possibility.

Worst of all, though, is how flags are used, both now and throughout history, as devices to divide us from one another. Think of how they've been used throughout history. All the most repressive totalitarian regimes had laws requiring citizens to hang flags outside their houses, and throughout traditional warfare, one group of people would carry their flag into battle as they marched forth to fight and kill other people carrying a different flag.

We're all supposed to honor ours as if it's better than all others and exclusive to only us... which is entirely stupid. Flags are all symbols that nations use to categorize people, which is tragic because it takes away from all the intricacies, subtleties, and quirks that make live and people so interesting. We need to stop things like this from getting in the way of actual humanity. Forget the categories, forget the symbols and throw out the preconceived notions. Go out and get to know someone for who they are regardless of which political entity claims dominion over them. And maybe, you can actually make a new friend.