Friday, 15 January 2016

Flag, Freedom, & Family …

Think about ‘Flag’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Family’, not to mention, ‘God’, ‘Enterprise’, and ‘Traditional Values’. In many contexts, they conjure up positive associations for millions of people. The pride one takes in the success of one’s country. The freedom to defy tyranny. The nurturing support of one’s family. The boundless love encapsulated in the ideal of God. The ingenuity of business enterprise in meeting one’s needs. The moral anchor offered by traditional values.

Yet all these notions have been hijacked by manipulators to trick people into believing that ill treatment of scapegoats and exploitation of the vulnerable are glorious endeavours. The ‘Flag’ is waved to cover up unjustifiable aggression. ‘Freedom’ for the elite is invoked to subjugate the many. Interference with people’s own family life is instigated on the basis of an alleged respect for the ‘Family’. ‘God’ becomes a label endorsing every act of oppression. The belittling of workers, pollution of the environment, shortchanging of customers are all glossed over as a small price to pay for allowing ‘Enterprise’ to flourish. And hateful prejudices are fanned by the rhetoric of ‘Traditional Values’.

The last thing we should do is to concede to the hijackers and let them keep hold of these terms and abuse them. We have a duty to remind our fellow citizens that precisely because such terms can be contested, we need to rethink which version should be embraced.

The flag of one’s country is rightly a matter of pride, and we should celebrate when it is hoisted by a conscientious leader who will leave no one behind, but not if it is being waved by a treacherous demagogue. Freedom is a condition we all seek, and everyone should be granted it so long as it does not infringe on the freedom of others, which is why we would just become less free if we allow the powerful elite to keep gambling away our money, making people addicted to their harmful products, or imposing contracts on others courtesy of their superior bargaining position. The family should be cherished for the love and security it provides, and society indeed has no business with how people go about forming their families, except in cases where one or more malignant members embark on abusing and terrorising others.

God embodies the highest ideal, but any claim about what God commands is nonetheless made by mere mortals who are fallible, and these include the delusional as well as the deceptive. Any business enterprise that is run by creative minds to add value to the lives of others deserve help with its growth and expansion, but anti-social enterprise that is concerned with exploiting others for its own gain must be reined in. And traditional values must evolve over time; and the inclination to differentiate between what is to be preserved and what is to be phased out in the light of experience, rather than dogmatic adherence, has itself become one of the most treasured traditions.

People with an enlightened and progressive outlook should not surrender the aforementioned notions and many other emotionally significant words. Instead of dismissing them, and end up appearing disdainful of the potential good they stand for, it is essential they are respectfully unpacked, with false and malicious interpretations exposed, and their proper applications restored.

1 comment:

Woodman59 said...

Just brilliant! Shared on Facebook for the first time.