This week hulu.com made every Seinfeld episode available for streaming. Who’s your favorite character? There are so many to choose from but Newman is in my top three. Do you remember him? Jerry considered him to be his arch-enemy. When something bad happened Jerry would often mutter through clenched teeth, “Newman!” Newman became a symbol to Jerry of bad moments intruding into his life.
Symbols can be so powerful. Take, for example, the Confederate flag.
Tragedy struck on June 17 when Dylann Roof shot and killed 9 people during a Bible study at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. On his Facebook page the murderer had pictures of himself draped in the Confederate flag. The flag, a powerful symbol of our tragic Civil War, is now under attack.
- Large retailers such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart have pulled merchandise bearing the flag from their shelves.
- Some states in the South, like South Carolina, are moving fast to rid the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds.
- Confederate flags have already been removed from the grounds of Alabama’s state capitol.
- Later this year Virginia will no longer make license plates with the image of the flag on it.
People are hating the symbol of hate. Does anyone else see the irony? The flag has become a place to focus our hatred and frustration. But here’s the problem. It is only a symbol of hatred. Eradicating the Confederate flag from our landscape only erases the symbol of hatred, not hatred itself. It’s like Don Quixote going off to fight windmills. The “I hate the Confederate flag” bandwagon only serves to divert what ought to be our real focus: let’s talk about getting rid of hatred.
We are falling into the trap of focusing on symbols instead of reality.
As I get older I’m recognizing too often we are content to attack symbols instead of dealing with the reality behind the symbols. Why? It is easier to remove symbols than the cause of the symbol.
And if you need an example, I will confess I loathe my bathroom scales. I’m tempted to take it in the backyard, pour gas on it, and set it on fire. But wait! My bathroom scales is only a symbol of a deeper problem which needs addressed. Hating the scales does not address the real issue.
I’m not a Confederate flag fan. If it makes people feel better then let’s get rid of the flag. But once it’s gone the hatred will remain. Little will be accomplished. The hard work of rooting out hatred remains. How does that happen? There are some things only God can do. And since God is love we need to get Him involved!