Symbols are just that, a representation of an abstract idea. A source of pride, an image of hate, a totem of sportsmanship, sometimes all of those things at once. Sometimes, those who believe in a symbol, a flag, a mascot, or a metaphor, latch on to the noble qualities then lose sight of how the majority view the symbol. They cling so tightly to the symbol they believe, they lose the ability to objectively see how their precious totem changes other people’s views of them. Those poor, myopic people are viewed as intrinsically linked with the negative aspects of the soiled symbol they refuse to discard.
This is what happens in real time with idiots (no judgment) who think they can direct the narrative and establish themselves as symbols in a debate they do not control. People who fashion themselves as martyrs who wrap themselves in misguided blankets of bigotry. Same with those who ignore context and aggressively attempt to be symbols of open-mindedness but rather end up being bullies. Sometimes people are in the middle of an argument, realize they’re wrong but because of pride, I guess, they stubbornly continue their specious argument knowing they’re wrong.
Let me put it this way: You have a favorite pair of underwear, your lucky underwear, but one day, on a date in at your favorite restaurant, you loudly poop your pants. You have to walk home, poop dripping down your leg, even homeless people screaming in terror (and this time not at the vampire zombie ghosts).
Do you meticulously hand-wash that underwear, or do you throw it away because the symbolism has changed? Do you defiantly still keep that metaphor because it’s still lucky to you, doing mental gymnastics to justify what happened? “Oh, these are totally lucky, it got me out of that date with that psycho, yeah. That relationship would have ruined my life if not for this lucky pair of…is that a chunk or just a piece of fuzz in the taint area?” Do you really want to be reminded, every time you see them of why you can’t go back to that restaurant and of why people giggle on the street and call you “Poo-Poo Platter?” It’s a symbol of a period of great shame and needs to be disposed of, not defiantly hoisted up a pole or made into t-shirts. (If you didn’t see this devolving into a poop metaphor, you must be new here. Welcome.)
It doesn’t matter what symbol you grew up with, what you feel is “steeped in tradition.” To the rest of the world, you’re waving your dirty underwear for all to see. You can’t own that moment. You can’t drive that narrative. At the very least, by waving that dirty underwear, you’re making a lot of other people very uncomfortable, running your poop in our faces. Government entities and businesses certainly shouldn’t be waving soiled drawers as they are meant to be neutral entities.
Whenever you see someone in an argument involving something or someone being a symbol (you can also substitute “martyr”), make sure they aren’t just crazy people waving their poop-stained underwear. Remember, people respect those who, in the middle of an argument can have the presence of mind to admit they are wrong and just apologize.