As this is my first post for 2013, I would like to wish a belated Happy New Year to all readers and thank you once again for making 2012 such a success. It certainly has been far too long since my last writing, particularly as I am aiming for thirty-five posts for 2013.
I have a keen interest in flags – yes, those of the nations of the world – and for some reason pride myself on being able to recognise over two hundred varieties. Maybe this is somewhat strange for a diversity practitioner, as flags can invoke deep nationalist tendencies and behaviours and are often the symbol, if not the cause, of much violence and aggression.
What does your flag say about your country – perhaps yours carries spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, crossed machine gun and hoe, a simple tricolour or a star and crescent. Whatever it may be, we know that many people around the world live, and perhaps die, by their national banner.
Personally, I don’t actually wave or fly any flag. I have a healthy ambivalence towards the flag of my home country, UK’s Union Flag and a slightly less favourable relationship with England’s Flag of St George’s, particularly since it has been adopted as the symbol of the worst type of right wing nationalism. I carry no symbol and make no statements about my nationality or indeed my religion.
Flags have featured in the news bulletins recently, as the current Belfast flag-based story continues to unfold. Following a political decision, Belfast City Hall will no longer fly the Union Flag throughout the year, as in the past. Its appearance is limited to just 17 days, to be unfurled on predetermined special occasions.
As far as I am aware Belfast is just coming in line with the rest of the UK, which seems like the right thing to do; no other town or city hall raises the Union Flag daily. But this simple change of procedure has resulted in weeks of rioting and political unrest, carried out by a minority of Unionists in Northern Ireland.
Perhaps those people who want to fly a flag should nail colours to their own mast and not expect other to do it for them.