Letters to the Editor

Defending the gold!

Friday, August 09, 2019

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Dear Editor,

As I have become older and wiser my appreciation and reverence for our national flag has intensified. In the recent past, world-reverberating events such as our triumphs and dominance in sprint events in the track and field arena have made me feel proud to be a Jamaican. Although athletic feats by just a few of our citizens should not be the main reason to invest pride in a nation, such prominent successes do tend to evoke reactions of national pride and joy.

Central to these sentiments are our national colours and our national flag, especially when it is unfurled for all the world to see and high above flags of the great powers such as the United Kingdom, the United States and the Russian Federation.

And so, on points of technicality, protocol and correctness, I am moved to draw attention to an increasing trend of misrepresenting our national flag. The misrepresentation is widespread, even though I think not intentional or, for sure, not with any malevolence of thought. The offence, which it is, is almost never to discolour or misrepresent the black and green colours in our flag, or the dimensions of the black and green sections of our flag. Rather, almost always, the offence is the use of yellow in place of the colour gold, and a thinning of the dimensions of the crux decussata or the 'X' in our flag.

I have seen where Government of Jamaica documents and printed programmes have our flag with a thinned-out cross in bright or pale yellow. I have seen sporting shirts and other paraphernalia with a ruined Jamaican flag. But if the dimensions are incorrect, perhaps it no longer is our national flag.

The fact of the matter is that we are no longer in the heraldic age, where people would give their lives for a regimental standard or a national flag, nor even wage a fight over it. Indeed, in countries like the US and some of the central European states citizens litigate over the desecration of national symbols, such as flags, and the ruthless governments harshly treat with those who use the national symbols in acts of protest or affix the symbols in ways seen to be trivial or outrageous, eg flags on bikini bottoms, placemats and seat coverings.

While we can neither coerce nor control the world, there are some approaches that are appropriate, measured and doable. For example, all government agencies and departments should be fully briefed on the dimensions and colours of our national flag and required to display only correct images of it. That should be quite easy.

Next, all public schools should revamp civics in the curriculum to educate our children on the important details of our national symbols.

The next move belongs to the private sector to get it right in their use and display of our national flag. Those who print stationery and publish in the various social media channels should become familiar with and use the proper dimensions and colours of our flag as they produce and disseminate content.

Then we can focus on those outliers that not Jamaican, or those who do not care to be punctilious. At this point we could apply sanctions for violations.

I do hope that more of us who recognise that it is the gold and not yellow will advocate for the proper representation of our flag and national symbols in whatever way we can. Such a cause may not rise to the level of a national emergency, but there is no loss if we do our part to retain and maintain the worthwhile tradition of being faithful to the colours and correct representation of the black, green and gold.

Christopher Pryce

christopherjmpryce@yahoo.com


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