25 September 2007

the meaning of that symbol

According to this article, a field in New Jersey recently had a swastika cut across it by unknown perpetrators. Joe Pica, the owner of a neighboring field, is understandably upset by the symbol. Since the second world war, the symbol has become synonymous with hate, genocide, and Nazism. Before the war, however, the symbol has a deep, peaceful history the extends well beyond the hatred it came to symbolize.

Pica is apparently unaware of the symbol's rich history. He advises that if children are caught vandalizing using the swastika, they should be "made to sit down for three or four days and research the history of the meaning of that symbol. Maybe they'll learn something from it."

Indeed, they'll learn that Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions and cultures have long used the symbol for both religious purposes and architectural means.

While I cannot fathom that the vandals intended to hearken back to their Jain roots by cutting an acres-wide swastika into a field--I, too cannot let the rich heritage of a fascinating symbol go to the dustbin of history because one particularly hateful man decided to make it his own symbol. I really don't delude myself to think this post will make much of a difference in the grand scheme of humanity, but I can feel a bit better now that I've done something, even a little bit.


Luke said...

I see parallels between this and the issue of the Confederate Battle Flag.

For some people, it signifies slavery and racism, nothing more.

For others, it really has nothing to do with either of those issues, and is more about remembering a mostly-gone cultural heritage.

And while we're talking about changing the meaning of symbols, how about the cross?

Scott said...

you have to admit the unavoidable humor involved when someone public displays their ignorance (Pica).

in other news: hi ian :)

aa said...

by the way, you were tagged in my last post.