Flags cause wars. At least, that’s what my Dad used to say.
Once when my parents were visiting me in Calgary from England, Dad asked why there were so many national flags around the gas station. This was back when Petro-Canada was a crown corporation and Canadians were very proud of it. I explained that it was state-owned, and the flags were celebratory. He harrumphed and muttered his disapproval.
I have flags. I have a Canadian flag, a Pride flag, and a San Jose Sharks flag. It all started when my neighbour put up an Edmonton Oilers flag, then another neighbour put up a British Union Jack, and a third put up a Canadian maple leaf, so I thought I’d get in on the act. It was mostly for a lark. Nothing serious. I just wanted to stake my territorial claim, maybe make them smile, or think.
A couple of years ago I went to the hardware store and bought a flag pole I could attach to the rail on my deck. It’s an ideal location for flags because we have a lot of wind that blows at the back of the houses on my street. Actually, we should all probably put up windmills and create some energy, but for the time being we have flags.
The first flag I put up was the Pride flag because my youngest son was taking part in a Pride parade. I kept it up for Pride week. Then it was Canada Day, so I put up the maple leaf flag. I kept that flag up until hockey season when I put up the Sharks flag. That was a joke, really. I spend winters in San Jose, and I just wanted to get a rise out of my neighbour who is a staunch Oilers fan. He even has Oilers logos on the panels of his deck and on the doors of his truck, and he has the biggest flagpole on the street. I planned to take my flag down before I left for the winter, but then it snowed so much I couldn’t get to the flag to take it down, so it stayed up all winter.
When I got back to Canada in the spring, I found that my neighbours had taken down their flags, and I did, too. It has been three months and we still haven’t put them back up. Pride Week and Canada Day have already passed, and we have not seen any flags.
Have I misjudged? Was my teasing seen as hostile? Is it possible that my idea of fun was their idea of a challenge? Maybe their flags just got tattered and faded, so they took them down. Most likely they just took them down with the intention to put up new ones, and haven’t yet got around to it. But, I don’t know because I haven’t asked them.
Basically, I haven’t a clue what they think. All I see is their flags, or their lack of flags, and on that basis I am making all sorts of assumptions.
That’s usually how conflicts start.