In praise of the tiny flag lapel pin
The world moves fast these days. The Internet. Cell phones. Up-to-the-minute news. Nip slips. Railways. Who can keep up? Thankfully, in a galaxy frenetically spinning in infinity there is a single stable constellation: the tiny flag lapel pin.
You’ve surely seen one pinned proudly to the lapel of one of our dear leaders. The pin, that tireless, sartorial workhorse, serves several roles at once. The small piece of die-cast metal simultaneously supports a flagging manufacturing industry, covers unseemly holes, expresses patriotism, and reminds all within sight which country its wearer hails from.
The last of those functions is, of course, most important of all. Sure, everyone knows Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada. Or so they think. He could be the President of Gabon. Or the Pope. Or the Grand Marshal of the Rose Bowl. Or whatever they call the leader of Luxembourg. How can we be sure he’s the leader of the Dominion of Canada?
A tiny pin. That’s how.
Let’s play out a scenario for illustration purposes.
Several clicks and clacks sound down a marble hallway as a setting sun drowns regal walls in soft, fading orange light. A mop of grey hair emerges from a dimly lit corridor, followed by several aides-de-camp who scurry to try to match the swagger of the man with the industrial-molded hairdo. Standing at over six feet tall, confident and self-assured, the man is clearly in charge. The man is a leader. A leader of men. A leader of women. The boss of the line – the party line, the Arby’s line, any line. The man is a leader of a country. Of a nation. But which country? Which nation?
His lapel is a barren, unaffiliated hinterland. The several square inches of fabric – the finest marino wool, most likely a subtle nod to the man’s patrician sensibilities and extensive debt of gratitude to the Phoenicians – that extend from just inside the point where his shoulders meet his neck down to the middle of his torso are a Siberia of uncertainty, leaving a panicked and frightened populace searching hopelessly for answers in a time of global instability and national moral decay.
Now, a counter-scenario.
Same clicks. Same clacks. Same hallway. Same man. Same hair (always, always the same hair.) But this time a quick glance from the top of the man’s head down to his lapel reveals a small pin. But it’s no ordinary pin. It’s a flag. And it’s no ordinary flag. It’s a Canadian flag. A flag. On a pin. On a man. In the hall. That’s Steve’s pin. Steve Harper. He’s the Prime Minister of Canada.
And I think he just saved the economy. And solved climate change. And restored family values. And unfilmed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Better? Much better.
We can’t count on much these days. But we can rely on one thing: whenever there is a speech to be made, a vote to be won, a crowd to be wooed, a country to be saved, there is a man wearing a tiny flag lapel pin ready to get the job done – and he’s from the country represented by that flag.
It gives so much and asks for so little in return. The tiny flag lapel pin. So the next time you see one pinned prominently on the breast of one of our leaders, take a moment to reflect on all that it has done for you and your country, especially its role in reminding you of the national affiliation of your head of government.
Because otherwise, how would you know?