Symbols divide us; symbols unite us.
If your symbols match mine, perhaps we can be allies;
If your symbols, I don't recognise, you will be strange - at best.
Through symbols we make sense of the world;
Through symbols we live our lives.
In language, sounds and scribbles are symbols;
In religion, clothes and food become symbols;
In culture, there is nothing that is not a symbol;
In arts, in science, even in math, symbols rule our worlds.
Symbols make our worlds, whether human or not:
Where some use symbols in the here and now,
We use symbols to escape place and time.
A clever use of symbols, and, lo,
We can go to the moon and come back.
A wise use of symbols, and, lo,
We can create a world just and fair.
A neglect of the symbols, and, lo,
We can fight and feed conflict.
A malicious use of symbols, and, lo
We can destroy our worlds.
Symbols are just symbols, they mean and they don't mean:
A harmony in symbols is harmony in life;
A disarray in symbols is hell with no end in sight.
Ahmar Mahboob is a Linguist. Currently, he is Associate Professor at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Sydney.