Take a look at this picture and tell me what you see:

Is it something good?  Is it evil?  Neither? What does it mean?

Well, maybe it will help if we take a look at the bigger picture:

Did the bigger picture change your perspective?  If it didn’t, maybe a little more information about that symbol will prove enlightening.  As you’ll see, the mental associations that people ascribe to the symbol has changed through the course of history but, for most of that course, the associated meaning was pretty benign.

So, what is the meaning of the symbol?  That’s up to you..it’s just a symbol.

symbol
–noun

  1. something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.
  2. a letter, figure, or other character or mark or a combination of letters or the like used to designate something: the algebraic symbol x; the chemical symbol Au.
  3. a word, phrase, image, or the like having a complex of associated meanings and perceived as having inherent value separable from that which is symbolized, as being part of that which is symbolized, and as performing its normal function of standing for or representing that which is symbolized: usually conceived as deriving its meaning chiefly from the structure in which it appears, and generally distinguished from a sign.

Depending on your experience and frame of reference, the meaning you assign to the symbol may be (and probably is) different than someone else’s.  Is one meaning better or worst than another?  Not really…it just depends on how you act upon the meaning that you ascribe to it.  And that’s the key: it’s not the symbol, it’s how a person individually acts upon it.

One of the strengths of the human mind is it’s ability to create and synthesize symbols.  Even if we don’t consciously realize it, most of our thoughts consist of a series of symbols.  Symbology is highly efficient…a mental short-hand of complex thoughts and reasoning that, rather than having to reprocess and combine several complex thoughts in order to make decisions, allow us to take two or more symbols, combine them, and create new, more complex thoughts that may then be mentally retained within another symbol.

But this symbolic nature of the human mind is also a weakness.  Namely, the assigning of an imprecise meaning to a symbol (i.e., a wrong or imperfect conclusion) means that we need to periodically re-examine our conclusions/symbols and improve upon them if necessary.  Unfortunately, most people seldom (if ever) re-examine their symbols and, when precision of their symbol is challenged, can become quite irate.  Just look for the person in a discussion that suddenly jumps off the point, especially if they start making appeals to emotion.  That’s a big tell that the person’s symbol has proven to them to be imprecise…and the more emotionally charged they are about it, the bigger the degree of imprecision you’ve probably exposed.  Conversely, a person who can have their symbols challenged and precisely define their symbols is a person worth listening to.  You may not agree with them but they’re probably further along on the road to self-actualization and should be able to at least hold a decent and civilized conversation (a rare trait, indeed).

So, now, let’s make a jump and apply this information.

What do you think or feel about this symbol?

Is it something good?  Is it evil?  Neither? What does it mean?

I’ll let you decide.  As for me, I think I’ll judge a person who ascribes to it based upon their individual actions.  So far, I’m not liking much of what I see being done under this banner but I don’t blame the symbol.  I don’t condemn the artist that created it.  And I don’t prejudge a person for using it.  It’s just a symbol.

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