The flag comes down, but racism isn’t finished

Like any symbol, flags are subject to interpretation. But those beliefs, good or bad, still exist when a symbol is removed.

The Confederate flag represented millions of Americans who turned slavery into an industry, fought their neighbors to preserve their way of life, and nurtured racism at a generational level. Some of these interpretations diminished in the course of history: the Civil War saw the defeat of the Confederate States of America and liberation of the slave population, while legislation eventually formed to protect the oppressed. In these instances, the Confederate flag became a relic and a visual reference to some of our darkest moments.

Racism, however, is an extreme set of human behavior. It is an ancient practice that does not require attachment to symbols. If Hitler could annihilate a culture without his own symbols of authority, then the Americans who exercise cruelty against others can still do so without a colorful piece of fabric.  Racism is expressed in so many ways, and should be studied and discouraged in an equal number of ways. I fear that bloodshed in a church can still happen in our world.

Moral issues affecting our society cannot be completely legislated as a cure, although we applaud the efforts of our democracy. Moral issues must come from within, changed by our hearts and sensibilities, and on a person-to-person level. As we pass love and kindness from father to son and mother to daughter, so must it be with teaching the warnings and weaknesses of an old and tragic part of our existence.

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