From the desk of Pastor Dave, Big Sioux Baptist, Flandreau, SD
Symbolic Gestures – 300
Gestures may have meaning. Unless a person knows what the significance of the gesture means, there is no way to know the symbolism equated to the gesture. The color of a bandana handkerchief could have an important meaning to some people, but mean nothing to others. This example has had life-threatening consequences.
Generally speaking, symbolic gestures are not a matter of law. They can be, of course. When that happens, enforcement by the government is used to keep the intent of the gesture important to those using or not using the gesture in question. Perhaps the greatest turmoil arises from differing cultures having differing symbolic gestures. When someone fails to recognize the significance attached to a specific gesture in a specific culture, there can be many ways displeasure will be shown to that person.
When a person specifically refuses to honor the significance, the displeasure can change to hostility. At this point, mob rule can happen, often with deadly results.
Ignorance or deliberate disrespect is the typical failing of those not honoring symbolic gestures. It would be wise for there to be an inquiry made concerning the motive of the person perceived to have disrespected the gesture. Behavior modification would be better that punishment.
Conforming behavior will appease, but that does not mean the individual is actually copying the gesture with the correct understanding or motive. As an example, a husband with a ring on his finger may have a lecherous thought life toward many women. His wife may not know and society might not be aware of his mental unfaithfulness. The ring has symbolic significance. He is outwardly conforming. Mentally he has broken his wedding vows. There has not been a physical incident of infidelity. The ring is still on his finger. Unless he shares his thoughts, no one knows but that he is totally faithful to his wife.