Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Friday, 01 October 2010

Symbols of Good

What does this symbol mean to you? Think carefully now. Ok, this image appears to be pretty, but the image of a swastika often brings to mind terrible world events.... hatred, intolerance, fear. I thought of posting the more familiar image of the Nazi swastika, but the beauty of this image won out : )

Not many people know that the swastika is actually a symbol of good.
"It is one of the oldest symbols of mankind, a symbol representing peace, laughter, joy and good luck. Its Nazi links are only a minor speck in its very long existence. It is a symbol that deserves a better treatment from history. Swastika stands for truth, compassion, tolerance and happiness. It is worshipped as a symbol of good fortune..." Read more here. Another article can be found here.
Today, I had my own experience with the swastika.

I went to the lottery house to buy credits for my bus card. While I was there, I decided to take a lottery ticket on a "if not, why not" impulse. (Please note, I don't habitually gamble and I don't depend on lotteries to change my fortunes, as was implied in comments on another blog). I had just finished paying and the girl behind the counter smiled and wished me luck. She is such a sweet girl with a lovely, friendly smile. She handed me my change. I looked down... and my world crumbled...

Yes, the photo is bad, but it was a shaky cell phone pic.

On the note is written, "Fora imigrantes" or "Get out immigrants." It is a very emphatic word used in this type of context. Combined with the swastika, the impression was immensely negative. I wonder what the effect of so much negativity would have on the writer. I stood there staring at the note, a multitude of emotions and thoughts, many of them depressing, going through my mind... until I landed on the thought and emotion I wanted. "Yes! Thanks! Just what I needed with a lottery ticket! I *do* want to get out!" haha! If I found the writer of the note, I'd probably kiss them.

Then I thought more on the matter and did a bit of reading when I got home and found the above info on the swastika. Combined with my interpretation of the message, it's all good.

Now I'm tempted to frame that note, but no... I think I'll spend it. Apparently writing on bank notes is common here. Many people write a 'charm' on the note to have the money come back to them. I altered the note in bright orange marker. I put a smiley face to the left of the swastika and wrote to the right that the swastika is a symbol of peace and luck (in Portuguese, of course). Then in black marker, I crossed the negative wording out... not negative for me, but other foreigners may be hurt by it. I'm going to spend that note. I've been wanting to do this for a while. I'm going to buy a phone card with the note and leave it unused at one of the nearby slums' pay phones. I'll send that note back into circulation, but with something good attached.

Wishing me luck? Wishing me out of here? I'll take it! : )


  1. I knew the swastika was much older than the monsters that made it famous. I think you have made a positive ripple in the universe today! I hope you are rewarded sweetly! hugs

  2. this is news to me..and oh Im sorry about the note...

  3. It always sends chills up my spine when I see a swastika.
    But what a nice way to alter the ugly message on that note. You did welll!

  4. That was exactly it, Kat. I just wanted to change the energy around that note... for myself and for any other poor foreigner who'd find it.

    Heather, I was sorry at first, but not afterward. I am sorry, though, for the person who wrote it... and for those who end up feeling the brunt of the message.

    Riete, I'm with you there... which is why I chose the pretty floral image for this blog. The swastika gave me chills when I saw it on the note and not in a good way too. Thanks : )

  5. I also heard about it being an old symbol and a different meaning - but it does make you think about the Nazis etc. It's a great idea to pass it on.

  6. Apparently, the Nazis started out with the symbol for good. They honestly believed that they were doing good, that they were a chosen race. Jurgis was telling me that he watched a video where they were saying that the Nazis were very much into 'wellness' when they started out. Smoking was heavily discouraged and strongly encouraged a more vegetarian lifestyle, eating more grains, etc. It's just so sad that they took something good and made it a symbol of hate and fear in the end.

  7. I knew that the symbol had been around for centuries and has a longer history than the terrible one of the Nazis, but you know, it doesn't matter to me, it won't get past that anymore sadly. As you said just above me, they took that good thing and made it a symbol of hate and fear in the end. For me there is no going back, partially because there is no explaining the history to millions and millions of other people, or re-educationing the world. And people who have had families destroyed by the Nazis, either directly, or by maybe losing members in the armed services, I think it will never be anything but a symbol of their loss and anger.
    What really makes ME angry is the note. I think that it is a good thing that you found a way to be positive about it. I myself might have taken it to a bank, trade it in and spoken to the manager and suggest that they retire it. Whether he did or not...
    But you found a positive way to handle it and that is a very good thing, and it is the thing that I enjoy the most about you, your ability to be very positive, not angry or complacent. :-)

  8. HItler sorta ruined the symbol... too bad. Don't know if it can ever be reclaimed?

  9. I didn't click on your links when I was at work, just commented. So I took a peek now, and then I knew why that floral photo was so familiar! It's the symbol the Hindus use for Diwali Festival! Last year I was searching high and low to find e-cards to send my friends in Nepal, and noticed that picture then! The symbol is so old---and all good connotations. Sad.

  10. interesting though but also a GREAT idea to do something positive out of that dark thinking of human kind.

  11. Marty, the note made me angry in the beginning. I didn't think to take it in. My experience with banks here and bank note issues has been less than favourable, but that may be my own lack of advanced communication skills. But trust me, I have to go through the angry bits to get the positive and some days, that takes a lot more work than other days. I have my complacent times too, where I give up and just can't be bothered. I try to keep those times short and sweet though. It's a sink or swim situation.

    Bert, I think it's possible, but never totally.

    Kat, you're quite right, it was part of a Diwali festival. There was a very pretty photo of a swastika all lit up with candles too (in the link under the pic). I feel sad for those who want to use the symbol, but have to do it secretly because of the negative connotations.

    Tori, I try to do that as much as possible - or I'd go insane : )

  12. What a fabulous way to turn it all around. It didn't take your power...you took its!

  13. I did not know the full history of the swastika. Even though it has come from good, my predominant thought is what it stood for in WW2. I'm glad you can take this and turn it around! Reminds me of when Jerry and I were down in Louisiana one winter, coming into downtown New Orleans, with our old car and MN license plates. A vehicle with a couple young men pulled alongside us, and as they passed they yelled, "Go home, Yankees!" What in the world???? I had a pretty "sheltered" life living in a small town, not really traveling, so this was a shocker for me.

  14. I knew the full history of the swastika but the Nazis took it and rotated it about 45 degrees...(I think..at least it appears that way) I have to say that whoever put it on the bank note did it the positive way, but I doubt it was intentional, especially since what was written with it.

    I'm sorry that Brazil has such negativity in it. I thought it was more cosmopolitan. Ah, well.

  15. Tint, this is an amazing example of how one person can make a difference and turn things around. I knew a bit about the swastika, because I'd seen it in some places in India, but this was really a beautifully-written blog. Times like this, I am even more glad than ever to be your friend. :)

  16. Sandy, that's what I had hoped to do. It was touch 'n go as to which direction my mood would take with something like that.

    Faye, I've had that before. I remember the time right after 9/11 here when I had a few people telling me (as an 'American' to go home). I've also had them say the same thing on hearing I'm South African - "Go home racist" or words to that effect. I have to chuckle at the 'Yankee' thing. For us, Yankee is anyone American. We're not so clued up on your history. That was until my American friends, I think Kippy, pointed out the difference. Labels can be so hurtful, can't they?

    Kat, there are many examples showing both ways. Often it's with a photo displayed in the wrong direction. I've seen Nazi symbols swinging both ways. Some parts of Brazil are cosmopolitan. The part that amused me is that the only ones who have any non-immigrant right to this country are the Native Americans who would never write a message like that, so the person who wrote it comes from immigrant stock themselves.

    Kippy, as I said to Sandy, it could have swung either way so easily. I was in a bit of a funky mood that morning. I don't think I made a difference to anyone with what I did and will do, but it made me feel better, which, selfishly, was more important at the time ; )

  17. the Nazis did screw the swastika sign for so many, that some indeed are not aware that swastika first of all was a symbol of the Sun, of the life cycle, and not just that of Nazism and destruction. It is truly sad that some people are so shortsighted and only go on wobbling that they're better than others, while it is them who are truly limited.
    Hopefully the latter sort of people sooner all later will realize their mistake of judgment and will learn their tolerance


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