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November 15, 2020

Contributing to the Chaos while

Living – Life – Large

Dan Abernathy

As I look away from seeing what is, I strongly ponder about a few nonverbal gestures to include with my exit strategy. Nonverbal gestures play a huge role in our lives and can establish meaningful interactions in our daily journey. Often times these indications and movements are louder than the voice. I’m just not sure what one to use right now.

Should I just wave?

A wave is a gesture that consists of the movement of the hand or entire arm. People normally use it as a greeting, but it is also used to say goodbye, acknowledge presence, or a call for silence.

It is slightly unclear as to the origin, but it has been dated back to as far as the 18th century, but it was not called waving or used to say "hello", or "goodbye." The original gesture of waving was saluting.

Prior to the 18th century, to show their identity, knights removed the guard of their helmets. After which they followed with a salute to show they come in peace, it also showed others they are not armed with weapons and did not pose a threat.

Should I just show the gesture for love?

Showing the hand, palm out, with a raised index finger and little finger with an extended thumb, makes the love hand gesture.

This sign for love is fairly new, though there are dates taking its origin back to 1905. Whenever its origin was, it has a strong meaning that should be used by everyone each day. The meaning behind this hand gesture is seemingly often looked over or replaced with the contrasting one.

Though primarily in the United Sates, the sign for love has moved into the mainstream. It originated among deaf schoolchildren using American Sign Language. They created a gesture from a combination of the signs for the letters, I, L, and Y, I Love You.

In 1977 while on the campaign trail in the Midwest, Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter acquired it up from a group of deaf supporters. During the Inauguration Day parade, President Carter flashed the gesture for love to a group of deaf people on the sidewalk.

The gesture may have drifted away a bit and become an informal expression for many different positive feelings, its core is still the reverence of love for the recipient. As Jesus said, “love is the Way.”

Should I give the peace sign?

The peace sign is a hand gesture that has become globally recognized by all. Only one other gesture could possibly surpass its identifiable recognition, but we will get to that one later.

The peace sign is made with index and middle finger spread and facing out, the remaining fingers held down with the thumb. This gesture has become the general symbol for peace. Vietnam War protesters adopted and embraced it in the 1960s. It widely became the symbol for peace by the counterculture and become recognized around the world.

This hand gesture did not originate as the symbol for peace. It was originally called the V sign, or the victory hand. It was introduced as part of a campaign in 1941 for the World War II resistance to the Nazis. It became a war symbol for unity and for the victory of all allied forces.

Or should I just give the finger?

It is difficult to exactly pinpoint when and where the extended middle finger gesture originated, but historians have traced it to ancient Rome. Originally representing a phallus symbol, the gesture conveys a threat to the person to whom it is directed matching the Roman use of images of male genitalia for warding off evil.

It was in 1415, at the Battle of Agincourt when the Middle finger gesture popped into greater fame. The French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle fingers of all captured English soldiers.

Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the English longbow and therefor it would be impossible for them to fight in the future. This famous English longbow was made from the native English Yew tree. The act of drawing back the bowstring of the longbow was known as, plucking the Yew, or pluck Yew.

To the astonished bewilderment of the French, the English won the Battle of Agincourt and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, chanting, “I can still pluck yew.”

Because of laziness in punctuation and ease of speech, this phrase gradually changed to the words often used today with the show of the elongated middle finger. It should also be noted that pheasant fathers were used on the arrows for the long bow, hence the verbal phrase in reverence to the gesture, “giving the bird.”

As with all things there are numerous naysayers and critics, so to it is with this highly known gesture. These cynics say there is no hard proof or documentation of the threat by the French to amputate the middle fingers of English soldiers. There is also no found documentation of the English’s victorious response with the middle finger.

For my contribution, on the battlefields of war, especially in 1415, there were a lot of unrecorded gestures, words and actions during the horrific violence. So instead of being the aggressor, I will refrain from raising the middle finger and bellowing, “pluck yew.” I’ll just calmly smile and raise two fingers high above my heart with the sign of peace, for those then and these now, while quietly singing the words of John Lennon, “all we are saying is give peace a chance.” - dbA


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