By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
Recent news coverage of the collapse of the Greek economy led reporters to the proverbial woman on the street for her thoughts on the subject. She was standing in front of a beautiful ornate wrought iron gate. Just above her left shoulder was a horizontal row of three inch encircled symbols that today we know as a swastika. My attention quickly left the conversation about the economy and turned toward the symbol and the powerful message of evil it now sends to many of us today.
Originally this ancient symbol meant “Well Being”, “Good Luck” or “Good Existence”. In ancient Sanskrit it is said that the deeper meaning is “Permanent Victory”. The symbols can be discovered in many countries. Each country has its own take on the design and meaning, all of which are similar in both. It can be found interwoven in the designs of the early Christian Church and its artifacts. In the early 1900s aviators wore the symbol as a lapel pin for good luck or for a good outcome.
Today when we see a swastika our thoughts immediately go to the symbol of Nazi Germany and the Nazi Party. Today you would be hard pressed to convince anyone that the swastika could or did mean good luck, good fortune or permanent victory. Most would connect with hatred, evil and death. But the symbol like many we have can mean different things by the way it is displayed. The five point star for instance when displayed with the point up has a good connotation as opposed to being displayed with the point down. Similarly the swastika has a negative and positive meaning. The Nazi Party used it in a positive position but at a 45 degree turn so it appeared as a wheel in motion. An ancient symbol of good was taken and used to represent an evil dictator. For many there is no convincing of its positive meaning.
No matter the explanation of either symbol, each remains as the individual sees it. As writers we must realize this and understand that no matter the history or the facts the public at large has an opinion of what a symbol means to them.
I realize that just by writing about this it can cause controversy. Andy Andrews in a recent book made the distinction of the German Soldiers and the Nazi Soldiers. I can appreciate that but it is a hard subject to tackle. Before we make such an attempt we must determine can we properly do it or will it overcome our intent and purpose of our story. Again it is true and sad to say but many times a symbol stolen remains stolen. Many times there is nothing we can do to overcome it.