Friday, March 11, 2011

The power of symbols

One more post for the day and then I promise I'm done. Hah, I'm sure that next week when we're back in school I won't be able to write as often, so I might as well get as much of my thoughts out right now as I can!

Tonight as I was walking around my neighborhood talking to a great friend and former roommate from college, I stumbled upon a car that had a window decal which I particularly loved. Quite the austere decal, it simply read "AMDG." Despite its simplicity, those four letters hold a lot of meaning for me. In fact, I was even wearing a shirt at the time that has the same acronym on the back of it - my Team Manny shirt, for those who remember that awesome day!

This got me thinking about the power of symbols, which I'm sure my friends who are English teachers (and also those who are sociology majors) will appreciate. We as humans have the tendency to inject a lot of meaning into otherwise mundane
things. For some who are reading, AMDG might possibly be only four obscure letters of which they can't discern the meaning (without the aid of google). For others who have been introduced to it before, they realize that it stands for "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam," a Latin phrase meaning "For the greater glory of God." Still others might realize it is the motto of the Society of Jesus (aka the Jesuits). Yet these meanings don't even begin to address the deep personal meaning that my experiences have invested in those four simple letters.

And so it occurs to me that there are symbols all around us that not only have their own "intrinsic" societal meaning (that which has been invested in it by groups of people) but also have a deeply personal meaning to the individuals whose experiences have animated that symbol with a more external, individual significance.

So I pose my first question(s) to my "readers" (whomever you may be): What are your favorite symbols and what special meaning have you invested in them? What implications does the meaning of this symbol have on your life? And how is this different from what another person might see in that symbol?

Please post your responses below in the comments section, and I will divulge more about a very important symbol in my life in a future post!

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