It started mostly with sports car drivers in the middle 1960s sharing pleasantries, but was popularized by the Smothers Brothers with their Comedy Hour and finally became the nearly universal sign of brotherhood and peace in the latter part of that tumultuous decade.
An entire generation adopted the two fingered Peace Sign as a show of solidarity and its personal exchange showed you were part of a popular movement for civil rights, the environment and above all, peace, or at least a shared demand to end the Viet Nam war.
It was a mere symbol but it was “our” symbol and it gave us an opportunity to understand that we were not alone in our desire for a better more equitable world.
A simple gesture created a bond and a sense of inclusion in something worldly and even spiritual that transcended race, socio-economic status and gender.
Two fingers proudly thrust forward to greet someone, familiar or not, is inviting and friendly even in a period when handshakes are shunned for fear of disease.
Using such a declaration places you squarely in a fraternity of conservatives, progressives and moderates who seek greater humanity and compassion in our world.
Giving the peace sign shows your solidarity with others who may or may not share other views but do share your desire for peace. And what could possibly be wrong with that?
Never in the history of man, has there been a more appropriate time to adopt an old symbol to accomplish something so needed and new.
JOHN BLAIR is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who serves as president of the environmental health advocacy group Valley Watch in Evansville, IN. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland, edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank. (AK Press) His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Public domain illustration by JOHN BLAIR