“Love heals. Heals and liberates. I use the word love, not meaning sentimentality, but a condition so strong that it may be that which holds the stars in their heavenly positions and that which causes the blood to flow orderly in our veins.”
I want to see more love and acceptance during “Memorial Day“—and on every day—not just from people who worship flags, but from those who hate them.
I do not like seeing people murder and die for mythology and government; this is true. I also understand and resonate with why we burn flags. But I also believe that unsophisticated and edgy tactics like desecrating bits of cloth only incites hatred against anarchists, as well as creates an air of confusion and miscommunication.
It is time for a change. Therefore, I have a different message. It comes from the compassionate and softer anarchy camps: let us not burn flags anymore. This is not to say I condone warfare, mass murder, or military action. I condemn those things with every morsel of my being.
It is just that burning flags does not accurately communicate the message we want. Some people think it does, but it does not.
It only triggers the people we are trying to persuade. It causes an explosion of painful emotions. And this prevents them from learning about anarchy. It causes an adverse reaction toward our prized philosophy, undermining our long term goal of unleashing total freedom.
The Message Sent is Not Always the Message Received
There are three primary axioms of communication; one of them states that the message sent is not always the message received.
When we burn flags, we are trying to communicate that government is evil, that the flag is not a symbol of freedom but oppression and slavery, and that nationalism is a dangerous abstraction.
However, the message most people receive is that Anarchists hate “America,” that they hate the soldiers who died, that they hate a way of life, and that they are traitors.
In other words, the message they get is that anarchists are insolent children who promote myopic hatred. And thus Statists will not easily internalize the truths about anarchism, nor will they be inspired to examine the false reality they have accepted.
Tragically, Some anarchists may actually want Statists to receive the above negative message, but that is sadomasochistic and pointless.
What does it accomplish? It will certainly make anarchists despised. But does it move the dial closer to freedom? Does it give people an understanding of anarchism? Does it promote love and connection among people? Does it get at the psychological reasons why people do not want anarchy? Is there any compassion to be had from burning flags?
Anarchists are Supposed to Stand For Love
Instead of creating a situation pregnant with contempt and loathing, we should try to articulate our hope and concern for all people, universally, and with authenticity. We should be find novel ways to promulgate acceptance of anarchy.
We should be so in touch with our souls that we transfer peaceful anarchy with our mere presence. It should be profound and piercing—and flag destruction will never allow us to melt a Statist with the magnanimity of our love, because they will just see us as evil.
It is true that flag worship and love of country is a pathological state of mind, but many of our current tactics only exacerbate this pathology.
So instead of using the current tactics, let us preach love. Love is what anarchists stand for. And burning symbols of people’s slain loved ones is not a good pitch for anarchy. It will achieve the opposite effect unfortunately. This is a psychological truth.
Browse the comments in this video from last July (first video to pop up). It is full of fear-laden threats and hate toward flag burners.
Is this the type of feelings we want to inspire in people? Do we want all out and total warfare? Do we want share in an echo chamber of hatred and violence? Do anarchists want to remain in the stone age because they cannot muster the courage, patience, or energy to build compassionate communities?
We are all creative and beautiful in our own unique ways, and I believe we can come up with better ways to communicate the dignity and decency of anarchy without causing a pandemic of fear and reactionary hatred toward us.