Bear with me, folks....I'm trying to make a point here.
The word "swastika" comes from the Sanskrit svastika - "su" meaning "good," "asti" meaning "to be," and "ka" as a suffix.
Until the Nazis used this symbol, the swastika was used by many cultures throughout the past 3,000 years to represent life, sun, power, strength, and good luck.
Even in the early twentieth century, the swastika was still a symbol with positive connotations. For instance, the swastika was a common decoration that often adorned cigarette cases, postcards, coins, and buildings. During World War I, the swastika could even be found on the shoulder patches of the American 45th Division and on the Finnish air force until after World War II.
Ok, shock effect over. Here is my point:
Some time back, a DJ from my one time home town lost his job for using what has become known as the "n-word". His context was in a following comment conversation in which he noted that all groups have some "lower class" who seem to have their own name and culture within that race, even sometimes taking on that designation like armor. He noted the white folks have the so-called "trailer trash" and/or "red necks", the Mexicans/Latin Americans have..., and the black folks have.... So, in the process of making a point, he found that - perhaps like me - he'd just offended some people without having any intention of doing so. He lost his job.
In the recent past, there was a cowboy phrase "you'd better smile when you say that". And, that particular phrase has been taken to higher and higher circles, finding a position in the way we see each other and the manner in which we deal with other cultures and countries. Our politically correct culture, our simplicity of politics that have little concern with taking one man's rights so that another can be comfortable, and in the process of it all having the temerity to not only lie to each other but to prefer it to the ugly truth. The words are precise, polite, but the intent...
So, now we actually come to my point of the post: Intent. There is a great field of psychology and even into other fields centering on Symbology. What do symbols mean? What sort of importance do they hold in the culture? Do some symbols change over time? And, the answer to that last is Of Course! Of course the symbols change because the importance to the people seeing that symbol differs by distance and experience. For instance, the symbol I used above for catching all of our attentions will have an effect on my friend Miles and on Nikki that is likely much greater than upon myself, and incredibly different to a person of the prior century.
So what? you say. Well, this: the video below really brought this to my thoughts last night. Our looks create a 'judging the book by its cover' phenomenon, but so do our words. We hear the words - of our politicians, our preachers, our neighbors, and even ourselves - but do we really hear the intent.