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at half-mast

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Broadcast “news” has come to mean “bad news.” Whether on local radio or national television, the lead story is inevitably about killers, people killed, or someone plotting to kill. It’s easy — and a natural defense mechanism — to grow numb from such a crazy diet. Yet once in a while something seeps through the protective layers to disturb my complacency … news of yesterday’s bloodbath in the Mediterranean Sea, for instance*. Judgement and anger arise, along with sadness. On a moment’s notice all I can think of to express my helplessness is to change the flag outside my window. But which one? Isn’t each a symbol, really, for the divisions among us, an outward delineation of Us versus Them?

I don’t have an Israeli or Turkish flag in my vexillologist‘s arsenal and the EU one seems too tame. So I reach for the Palestinian flag (black, green, white, red) and hoist it to half-mast. There it flaps, upside down, signalling distress. Neighbours and passers-by have grown accustomed to my displays, looking up to see what he’s flying this week. I pray they’ll appreciate my intention.

 *See NY Times and Spiegel. image: international marine distress flag (S.O.S.)


2 responses »

  1. i commend you peter for taking your action to mark this tragic incident; anything to help us stop and notice what is going on around us locally or internationally..

  2. i had some interesting conversations with people stopping to look at the flag at my house and read the explanatory note i’d posted … similarly with someone stopping me at the cafe’ who’d read the blog … i’ve since felt some disgust (and discouragement) at the way the bloodbath has been ‘spun’ by pundits and official mouth-pieces … as if if we, the unwashed citizens of the world, are incapable of forming our own opinions.


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