This 18 September we have seen the Chilean flag hoisted on millions of homes, buildings and public spaces. Chilean men and women are celebrating and celebrating in a big way under this symbol that is one of the few that we still share and that gives us a sense of identity.
We identify with “the tricolour”, our “crazy geography”, known borders, empanadas and red wine, cueca, copihue and the national anthem, but these are not enough for a shared identity that unites us. Much more is needed for the construction of a national project of which we are all a part.
Symbols need to be endowed with content and for this content to be shared. Chile and the world are facing a change of era. This phrase is not just a slogan that sounds good, but a reality that we have yet to face seriously and decisively. Examples include the climate and energy crisis, the role of technology in our lives, the introduction of artificial intelligence in the production and information system, mass migration, a better understanding of the diversity of humanity, the concentration of wealth, and the battle for control of raw materials.
Facing this transitional stage is a great social and political challenge, but as they say, those in power today, in their various manifestations, are issues of minority groups in an identity agenda that does not address the real problems of the people.
There must be people who address the most pressing problems of the moment, but those who will be able to be capable of proposing ways to tackle the challenges of the changing times are indispensable.
Chilean society, aware of this need, voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional change whose first attempt failed, and it seems that the second, with the pendulum swinging to the opposite extreme, is also headed for failure.
The bill that would oblige educational establishments to raise the flag and sing the national anthem that is being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies, and which was voted in favour in the Education Committee, is both a threat and an opportunity.
A threat in that flag-worship can translate into extreme nationalism, jingoism, uniformity of opinions, xenophobia, exclusion, isolationism, and conflict with the rest of the world. Or an opportunity, if together with the proposed act, we develop in the students critical thinking to defend, reinforce and promote democracy, justice, freedom, diversity, and solidarity as the basis for relations between Chilean men and women.
I hope that everyone who has a chance to have an impact will make efforts to have a flag that unites us in civic values and that education will be able to promote them.