flag etiquette

As I rode my bike this morning and listened to the soundtrack of Eckhart Tolle’s wise Martian-like voice narrating his audiobook, I heard him say, “…humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die.” And then a moment later, “If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating fundamentally the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.” That’s when I noticed the faded, soiled and worn American flag hooked to a tree branch along the trail.


It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the flag is plenty worse for the wear, having been exposed to the elements. It’s an odd place for a flag, out there in the wilderness. I noticed it the last time I rode on this trail a few days ago, I wondered who hung it there. I wondered if it was someone’s way of celebrating the upcoming 4th of July. I thought of what I’d learned in grade school about American flag etiquette and care, and this didn’t seem to be it. Then, in keeping with my propensity to overthink, I wondered if it was my responsibility to do something about that flag hanging from a thread.


The words of Eckhart’s other-worldly voice on top of the visual of that flag was not lost on me. It seems to me, the condition of that flag is the condition of our country. There is suffering, death, denial, delusion, confusion, dysfunction, chaos, lack of clear direction, rage, deception, bickering over wearing a freaking mask, full-on national insecurity. Guys, if you haven’t noticed, we’re in trouble. We’re in the whipping elements, and we seem to be hanging on by a thread.


I don’t know about you, but I ultimately listen to a higher authority than Eckhart. I trust in the assurance from this Truly Other Worldly Voice that there will come a better day—a day when love will reign, no matter the elements that swirled and churned before.


Until then, I have choices. I can harm, I can foment, I can stoke—or I can heal, I can be a reason for others to hope. I can ask myself, how can I best care for our flag?