Governor Terry Branstad ordered that all flags in the state of Iowa to fly at half-staff today in honor of Peace Officer Memorial Week. I think that honoring those men, women, and canine who have given their lives in service of the safety of the public is very fitting. My question is when does flying the flags at half-staff begin to lose its impact if it seems to happen frequently? As I was walking early this morning I saw the flag at the post office flying at half-staff and for a brief moment the thought that came into my mind was: “So what are we flying the flags at half-staff for this time.” Again, I definitely find it extremely important to honor all the individuals or groups of individuals that prompt the governor to issue such a directive. I am mainly concerned that the impact is lessened by the frequency of this particular way of honoring them.
This can easily be applied to some of our rituals that are used to express our faith. Whether it is the sacrament of communion, the inclusion of the Lord’s Prayer each week in worship, or the reciting of the Apostles Creed, it is very easy for those sacraments and rituals to turn into activities done by rote versus times of extraordinary expressions of what we believe. I think that this is something we need to be very aware of and work diligently to not allow ourselves to make the extraordinary ordinary.
I do not have a clear response to the question I proposed at the beginning of this post. I merely raise the question up to hopefully begin an awareness and a dialogue about this subject. So go ahead, give your input please. I’m not sure that there is a “right” answer but hopefully some insightful viewpoints.