Tell me, what do you think about when you think of the image of a swastika?
If you’re like me, you instantly think about the Nazi party. Perhaps some sort of image comes to mind of Adolf Hitler standing at that arm-straight salute with his narrow mustache and greasy combover. Which probably draws your mind to the Holocaust and the genocide of the Jews, which may draw you toward white supremacism as it manifests in some circles today.
Simply put, the imagery doesn’t bring pleasant things to mind.
Of course, if you know even as little as I do, then you know Hitler definitely wasn’t the first to use the swastika. I don’t know without looking up why Hitler chose this imagery (if he even made this decision himself), but I do know it originated more from Eastern religions.
Okay, I just looked it up. Looks like the swastika has ties to several Indian-centric religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. And here’s an interesting tidbit I did not know: the direction of the arms being clockwise or counterclockwise have different meanings for Hindus. Clockwise represents prosperity and good luck whereas counterclockwise symbolizes the night. (Cue “The More You Know!” music.) And funnily enough, Wikipedia’s introduction ends with this statement:
Reverence for the swastika symbol in Asian cultures, in contrast to the West’s stigma of the symbol, has led to misinterpretations and misunderstandings.
Understatement of the Year award goes to…
But seriously, it’s clear that something that once had a pure and meaningful purpose can be co-opted to become something that is associated with pain, misery, strife, and anger. The swastika is the clearest example I can think of this.
I unfortunately don’t think the swastika will ever able to be reclaimed.
The good news is that I don’t think this idea that things can’t be reclaimed fits across the board. Still, there are some things, some words in particular that carry a lot of baggage with them, and it may be better for a time to set those aside while we figure things out. We might be able to pick them up later, but for now, they cause too much frustration, confusion, or other negative feelings to continue using at the moment.
I’m currently reading Infinite Powers, a book about calculus, and what author Steven Strogatz does great is explaining the intuition behind calculus without necessarily using the terminology. There’s not even anything inherently evil at all about stuff like derivatives, integrals, sine waves, and more, but Strogatz understands those terms can be alienating for people who see calculus as something that makes them feel dumb.
Have I beat around the bush long enough?
This last year has been THE most transformational for me in terms of my spiritual / philosophical life. I began the year purely looking through a Christian lens because, well, that’s what I grew up with. Since then, that lens has expanded big time, and I intentionally say “expanded” because I don’t at all think that my gaze has turned away from Christianity. I wrote in the book review of my friend Austin’s book this paragraph:
What I do know is that, just like Augustine, I keep finding myself pulled back to the Christ consciousness. No matter how far I wander into the blackness of uncertainty, I keep finding the God of the Bible at every turn. I don’t find that discouraging at all. In fact, I find it comforting to know the God of my childhood remains well into my adulthood.
I 100% meant every word there. But what you may have caught even here is that my vocabulary has already started to shift. Indeed, the God of my childhood remains into my adulthood… but I view him (her?) through a much expanded perspective.
And because of that perspective shift and stigma around words associated to Christianity, I feel it’s time to set them aside right now. Of course, one of those words I’m specifically talking about is faith, which is weird because faith can be associated to all worldviews. It has just so happened in the West to be most closely associated to Christianity in all its forms.
With that, let’s end this post in a self-Q&A fashion.
So what will you call this series of posts now?
Ha, I’m glad you asked this, because I don’t have a name. I tried thinking of one, but I couldn’t think of anything that best encapsulated my thoughts here. I did create a new logo that I think speaks words beyond a single word, so I’m going to let that do the talking for me.
Tell me more about this logo.
I’m very satisfied with how it turned out. Right before creating it, I was watching a short film on Netflix called Ram Dass, Going Home. As you can guess, it features Ram Dass as he is today in his old age, and it was extremely moving.
Anyway… oh yes. The logo. I was playing around with an old minimalist icon of a person because I wanted to show “radiance” in some capacity. As I continued to “offset the path” of the design, a pattern emerged. If you look at the logo, it almost looks as if it’s a cross section of a human brain from above. I really liked this idea because I’ve been listening to a lot of Kapil Gupta lately, and he talks about what I interpret as a level of enslavement that the true consciousness (the person) has with his / her body (the brain).
With a little inspiration from Westworld, that’s where the idea of the maze pattern came in. Unfortunately, this “unlocking” of the mind from the body isn’t easy. We go down one path only to find a dead end. And if you notice, there is no path to the center intentionally. Why? Because while we always travel that maze, that maze is just an illusion anyway.
Okay, I’m getting too deep for one post. Maybe we’ll explore this more in the future, but for now, I have to admit again that I am super happy with the way the logo turned out.
Why a logo at all? Why keep these posts separated from your other posts?
A great question! You are an astute thinker. (Man, I am pretentious sometimes…)
The regular set of posts are replicated to LinkedIn because of the more direct tie they have to the business world. The idea is that I want people to be able to explore those posts without feeling burdened to ever read these. These posts often offer no inherent applicability like the others do, but if you’re like me, you understand that applicability isn’t important. What matters more is understanding the deep foundations behind the applicability.
So I hope people get curious enough to check out these posts after reading the others. And from a branding perspective, the blog title cards more closely align to the visual elements of my “regular” posts now.
And they strip away that faith language that may oppositional to some.
That’s it. This is probably the most worthless post ever for you, but it meant a lot to me. And as I frequently say, these posts are more for me than they are for anybody else. Anyway, I hope you still saw some glimmer of value. We’ll see you in the next post.