The Peace symbol is perhaps one of the most ubiquitous in campaigns around the world. Originally designed for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1958 for a march from Trafalgar Square to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in London. The designer, Gerald Holtom, based his design on the semaphore signals for “N” and “D” indicating “Nuclear Disarmament.” The symbol became the badge of CND and worn throughout the UK to indicate support for unilateral disarmament. The symbol quickly became adopted by various organisations for peace and disarmament throughout the world. There have been attempts to discredit the symbol as being an icon of the devil (witch’s foot or crow’s foot). Irrespective of the similarity it can hardly be mistaken today for anything but the primary symbol for peace.
The Anarchist symbol is also well know, but, unfortunately, not well understood. Anarchy is commonly thought (mistakenly) of as chaos, disorder, confusion and unruliness. The symbol itself though is a combination of two letters – an “A” indicating anarchy or anarchism, and an “O” for the word “order.” Not well known is that the background to combining anarchy and order is the quote “Anarchy is the mother of Order” from Proudhon (one of anarchism’s foremost theorists). Anarchy simply suggests a social system based on mutual cooperation devoid of a ruling elite. To elaborate further on this would require much than this blog post is able to. The symbol is included here as the concept behind anarchism is redolent of the desire by those working in Community Development and Social Justice for empowerment and justice for those in marginalised or dispossessed communities.
The fourth symbol that is highlighted in this blog is the rainbow. Although it has become very much identified with gay pride over the past decade or two, the rainbow has perhaps been used as a symbol for more ideas and concepts than any other symbol. In Western culture the rainbow was a sign of hope and a promise to Noah. The splitting of light into the seven colours of the rainbow is well known to most primary aged children. Thus, can be seen the idea of diversity (the seven colours) contributing to unity (white light). The rainbow is used as a symbol in many ways, here are just a few:
- South Africa is referred to as the Rainbow Nation, a term coined by Bishop Desmond Tutu and referred to by Nelson Mandela in his first month in office as President of South Africa. Indeed, the South African flag has 5 colours plus white.
- The name of Greenpeace’s first ship was the Rainbow Warrior. The Rainbow Warrior was used extensively in Greenpeace’s campaign to halt nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. The ship was eventually blown up by French saboteurs in Auckland Harbour in 1985.
- Native American legend tells of the Warriors of the Rainbow who came to teach humanity how to live harmoniously so that the earth and it’s peoples could return to health following ecological and social collapse.
- This blog site (Rainbow Juice) itself uses the rainbow as it’s symbol.