John on Press Herald Post


Barak Obama seemed a bit bewildered.  I’m sure he hadn’t given it much thought.  But suddenly people were asking him “Why don’t you wear a flag on your lapel?  Don’t you love your Country?”  Of course he loves his Country – it’s a given that anyone who serves in an elected office has to love their country.  Why else would one take on the personal sacrifice that comes with public service?

But it has become pro forma today for politicians to wear a flag pin in their lapels.  When everyone does it, I’m not sure what it means.

Lapel pins should mean something!  They should be a subtle form of expression, sort of like “wearing your heart on your sleeve” only cooler than that.  It’s just a small bit of decoration but it can also offer a hint of the individual.

I have two lapel pins – one is a halibut and the other is a humpback whale.  When I go to meetings, one or the other is on my suit coat.

The halibut is a symbol of my work over the last 15 years – to restore groundfish in New England.  Halibut are mighty fish – when you catch one you know it.  And yet fishermen in dories fishing with hooks collapsed that population in 19th century.  It is so easy to underestimate our collective power to do harm.

The humpback is my symbol for the whole of marine life.  You would think that an animal that large would be an apex predator, but they are not.  They occupy a niche right at the center of the marine food web.  Humpbacks are intelligent creatures, minds in the water – they observe, they respond, they are conscious of what’s around them.  We humans harm them in many ways but they don’t fight back (they could) and they don’t run away.  They just endure.

So.  Perhaps now you have a glimpse of a crusty old guy – all from a small lapel pin.

Maybe I should get a tattoo next.