On Flying An Ensign

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I have to admit, for some time, I have considered joining the “Red Ensign” blog roll.

In most respects, I agree fundamentally with what the Red Ensign folks agree with, and value the same things. I’d also love to be part of a group. It would be nice to have my name or blogname added to The Flea’s list of Red Ensign bloggers, and be considered part of an elite group that holds dear a philosophy of Canada that has seemed to have disappeared in recent years.

On the other hand, I’m leery of flags and symbols. Flags and symbols are wonderful ways for humans to express some sort of agreement with principles that a flag or symbol represents, but on the other hand, too many people seem to get all emotionally involved in the symbol itself, and expect that the rest of the group adhere to what OTHERS think the symbol means.

I’m just not really a symbol kind of guy, I guess. I grew up waving the “Red Hand” of Ulster around, while shouting, “Kick The Pope Up The Shankhill Road!” And yeah, I love to see St. George’s cross, with the Red Hand and crown about it, waving in the wind. It’s a beautiful flag.

On the other hand, I know that sometimes, patriotism goes too far. Flags and symbols themselves are nothing, really, when they require that a person flying them, or displaying them holds certain beliefs or philosophies of the entire group.

Yes, if I had my druthers, that old Red Ensign would be my flag. It would stand for tolerance. For individual liberty. For mutual respect. For the fights and the deaths in the 17th century, of those who stood up for religous freedom. For freedom of thought. In 1690, the world was not a great place to live in. But, at least King William and Queen Mary agreed that individuals should have more power as to what and who ruled over them than previous monarchs. The Great Protestant reformers were not so great in today’s standards, but give them credit.. if it weren’t for those men that stood up to the rule of Popery in those days, we’d probably all never have a chance for education, for free scientific thought, for advancement to what we are now.

Canada in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was not exactly the most libertarian nation around. But men like Laurier, and those who would advance true and real libertarian ideas, were on the right track.

Somewhere along the way, around the time when we took on this ugly Maple Leaf flag for a nation, we ended up getting side tracked. Going backwards as far as individual rights and liberty go. Yet most Canadians seemed to find some way to pretend.. to be.. sort of … pompous in regard to our way of life. As America became more and more socialist, all of a sudden, Canadians thougth they should be even more socialist or something, in response. I guess it made those Canadians feel good at the time. I don’t know.

Anyhow, in lieu of a Red Ensign, which I’d love to fly on this site, but have lots of issues with, as far as my own problems with symbols and flags, I’d prefer to fly a different ensign. This ensign speaks more clearly about what I believe in than the Red Ensign does, as much as I love that old red rag.

This ensign was created by a group of people. And perhaps, as time goes on, the organization might change, as most organizations do. They’re message might change. But their original meaning can never change. It’s quite simple. Back Off Government. This is OUR LAND. Stay off. Get Lost. Screw Off. My money, my labour, my life, is my life. I should be free to do with it as I please, as I respect my neighbour, knowing they have the same philosophy.

Here is my ensign. Fly it if you will. And when you do, give thanks for the freedom lovers of Lanark County in Ontario. Their hearts speak more to my heart than any navy, army, airforce, or government could ever do. And at this point in time, I voluntary choose to fly their ensign.

this land is our land government back off

8 thoughts on “On Flying An Ensign”

  1. Nationalism is the scourge of the earth. It eliminates debate and encourages bigotry. A free person would love his country because it sets him free. He would see himself as an individual rather than finding comfort in the collective.

  2. Ian, I congratulate you on a thoughtful and well-written post. You make some valid points against flying any sort of flag or symbol (but then you post a symbol – sorry, couldn’t resist!). I feel the same way about churches. I have my beliefs, but I haven’t found a church that preaches everything I believe. So I keep my spiritual life private. It has some benefits, but I miss out on the social support, the sense of belonging to something bigger than myself, the social aspects, the comfort of structure. The one point I’ll make here is that Nick hasn’t defined what you must believe in to fly the Ensign. I think each of us who have joined the group fly the flag for our own reasons. If you’ve been to my site, you’ve noticed I fly both flags – the Maple Leaf because I served under it and it means something to me; and the Ensign because my grandfathers and so many of their contemporaries served under it. It’s a voluntary tribute of sorts, I guess. Anyhow, it feels right. And nobody’s telling me I’m doing it wrong, or I believe in the wrong things, or any such rubbish. When I first joined the group, I did it because it immediately felt right, but I didn’t ponder it much. Thanks for getting me thinking about my motivations.

  3. Damian, thank you very much for dropping by and posting your thoughts! Much appreciated. But, one small thing.. I don’t think I’ve posted a symbol.. instead, I’ve posted a message.. that is succinct and clear. Back Off Government. Yeah, we could get into semantics, and try to have a discourse on the fact that all language is simply semantical, and written words are made up of symbols, but I don’t think we need to do that. And at the same time, as I’ve posted in response to other messages on the Flea’s post, and here, I LIKE the Red Ensign., anong other flags and symbols. Aesthetically, they are pleasing to my mind. Symbolically though, they can mean whatever is in our minds.. and then we’re expected to “rally round” that symbol. That’s my issue. I’d never throw a symbol observer off my raft, as long as they respected my individuality and respected my right to think and value as I do. And I’d only expect the same from a symbol observer. If they demand I fly their symbol, then off the raft they go :). Life is more about our own meaning than what others place some meaning into a symbol. My symbol could take any shape or form. It could contain stars, stripes, crowns, moons, red hands, or whatever. But those things don’t matter. It’s the message: “I am me, and you can tolerate me. But don’t expect me to agree or fight for your beliefs, if they don’t have value to me.” – Back Off Government. It’s the message more than it is the symbol. As far as your spiritual beliefs, I’m always open to learning more. I have my own spiritual vaccuum at the moment… and am not sure what I believe. Or even what I WANT to believe. But no matter what, it must have meaning to me, now. And I respect all different sorts of spiritual beliefs myself, having come from a particular spiritual belief system for many years. But finding that no one was willing to answer my questions.. I could assume that they didn’t want to face those questions.. so there must be something to my questions. And congratulations for serving. I respect that, as long as it was your free choice to do so. I admire that, and in fact, my father served in the militia.. and I have “served” in other ways. In all cases, it was by choice. I have nothing against that sort of service. We all serve, in ways we can, in the end. At this point of my life, I choose to serve without a symbol, and instead, out of love, to my children, to my friends, and to those I value. That to me is more important than serving a symbol. And I’ve had too much wine tonight.. so this is probably not the most cogent response I could come up with, but I do want to thank you for taking the time to respond, post your own comments, and of course, I’m thankful I might have something to do with helping anyone think about “motivations.” I’ve done a lot of thinking about that myself, over the past 8 years or so. And I am where I am. Maybe in 20 years, I’ll change my mind again. Who knows? Again, thanks for dropping by!

  4. And as a follow up.. I am glad you are doing what feels right to you! That is important. As I pointed out in my original post, I was tempted to join the “Red Ensign” brigade as well.. I admire the lot of you. I usually agree with what most of you say. But in the end, my feelings about flags and symbols and how that didn’t feel “right” to me.. but instead, a straightforward message did feel right, was what lead me to the point I’m at. Certainly, I’m not critical of any of the Red Ensign bloggers. It just didn’t feel right to me to fly a symbol.. a flag.. if you will, that didn’t have a straight forward message. Does that make sense?

  5. I think you guys are bringing too much internal baggage to your interpretation of the ensign. If you look at the Red Ensign blogroll, you will see a pretty wide variety of views on a variety of subjects. There’s no tint of nationlism in it. I personally like the ensign because it was the flag under which my ancestors immigrated here from England and Japan. And it was the flag they fought under, and prospered under, too. To me it represents the best of their immigrant achievements and sacrifices — all done without the tiresome nanny-state handouts we have today. If there’s one unifying theme for the Red Ensign bloggers, it’s that they are tired of the Natural Governing Party’s socialist pablum and want something different. It’s a pretty big tent, and I wouldn’t try to read a whole lot more into it.

  6. Chris, thanks for dropping by and posting your comments. First off though, I certainly am not suggesting the Red Ensign “group” is nationalist, by any means! My “baggage” is my own dislike for flags and symbols that people “rally” around. Been there, done that. So for me, it’s an issue of my own observations about humans and symbols. I think Joseph took my post one step further, stating his comments about “nationialism” which I also agree with, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean I associate the Red Ensign folks with nationalism!! Personally, I like the Red Ensign as well. It’s the flag I immigrated to Canada under. I also like the Alabama State flag, the Union Jack, and the Red Hand of Ulster. Some are for aesthetic reasons, some for sentimental reasons. But I won’t fly them and I won’t fight for them. Not sure if that all makes sense… the tiny comment box on this blog makes it difficult to go back and read what I’ve wrote 🙂

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