This has been going through my head for a little while. A friend mentioned to me that in certain music circles the saying ‘Peace, Love, Understanding and Respect” was a popular idea. As I’ve been thinking about the cultural baggage that comes with a lot of religious language, I was trying to find a way to clarify the idea of love. You hear a lot of people say “love” when they’re actually describing actions that are abusive or dominating. For the sake of my own meditation I wanted something clearer. Together these four symbols sum it up pretty nicely.
This fairly widely recognised peace symbol came into common use, in the West at least, during the 60’s. It is derived from the semaphore figures for “N” and “D” and represented Nuclear Disarmament.
This is another pretty widely known symbol for love and affection. There’s different theories about whether it comes from the appearance of somebody’s backside, but it’s a few hundred years old and pretty well known.
This is an old German rune “Dagaz.” Why I chose this to symbolise respect is that it means “daylight or clarity” among other things. Kenau seemed to me more an intellectual process, while Dagaz is something that’s obvious. We use phrases like “in broad daylight” or “when you see it in the light of day.” The idea is that most people are trying to live in peaceful well being and that when constructs of nationalism, military domination or religion are stripped away we can see that about each other.
Gebo is another rune, it means “gift.” I chose it to symbolise respect because of the rune poem that goes with it: A gift demands a gift. When I started searching for an image online, it was also linked to love and understanding so I guess that fits. The idea was that in the current Western paradigm domination by violence is legitimate authority. In less baboon like cultures a person is respected or earns respect in lots of ways other than violence. And like the greeting “Namaste,” when we offer respect to others we expect that we’re creating a social environment in which we will also be welcomed and treated with respect.
In the second Wall Street movie, there’s a scene where Gordon Gecko is giving a lecture in which he addresses Gen Y and the “Millenials” generation as being ninjas. No income, no jobs, no assets. For a little while now I’ve been using the term lacking equity to describe this situation. In sociology apparently people talk about social collateral which is a little more broad than simply not owning your own home, but implies the lack of respect that often accompanies unemployment and poverty.
The Free Market experiment has largely led to an accumulation of wealth by a minority and greater social inequity. As a way of resetting that world view I guess I’ve borrowed from the generations following me in order to try and correct our course. To try to leave them a more inclusive, sustainable world than our current situation might indicate will be the case. We really cannot keep digging stuff out of the ground to fuel a colonial era consumer growth culture. We are well aware that the Earth not only has finite resources but simply doesn’t deserve to be treated like a big garbage heap.
Regardless of what certain religious types think is likely to happen before Jesus comes back, we are living in a social construct that we made up and continue to make up. For the past few hundred years it’s looked like a death wish. The symbolism I’m using to meditate on is to transform that into something more like a “life wish.” For the sake of my own sanity, if nothing else. I don’t want my kids living through some Pentecostal lunatic’s fantasy of seven years of tribulation and armageddon because they don’t know how to read their bible properly or own shares in Raytheon.
Humans have made up all sorts of different cultures and social structures during our time on this planet. Now with our understanding of our selves, our needs, the environment and our technological abilities it’s well nigh time to move on from Iron Age ideas about domination. We teach little kids to share. Let’s remind the big ones as well.