Nations And Nature

American Flag


I thought this would be an appropriate image considering the recent Veteran’s Day and the upcoming Flag Day. Aside from the symbolism represented by the stars and stripes, the American flag standing alone against the sky speaks to me of the contrast between nations and nature, and how the former are dependent upon the latter.

The flag, most flags, symbolize a people, a group characterized by the things they hold in common, typically their history, values and aspirations. So far, nations represent the largest social structure on the planet. As complex and dynamic as these entities are, their survival and development largely depends upon the establishment and nurturing of mutually beneficial relationships—partnering—with other such entities. Current events indicate that the leaders of many nations, particularly those based on radical fundamentalist ideologies, have not yet come to terms with this, the result being warfare and acts of terrorism. I think we are witnessing the death throws of the paradigms of both separation and male dominance. At this stage of global evolution I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that nations are still learning how to live collaboratively, internally and externally, in order to create mutual growth and prosperity for all while maintaining the integrity of the planet.

Amidst this transformation in consciousness, nature is providing another, perhaps even shorter-term and more vital lesson, this one having to do with the quality of life for everyone; eventually the survival of nations. Climate change. No nation can stand without healthy people. And health requires clean air, appropriately filtered sunlight, an abundance of clean water, sustainable forests and non-polluted, fertile soils. To keep the flags of nations waving then, it’s not enough for individuals to seek their own health. They—we—must also do what we can to maintain the health of the nation. In the United States of America, a principle way to do this is by electing representatives who understand that the conservation and preservation of nature is a survival issue for our children and grandchildren, and for the nation. In a very real sense, the flag in this photograph—all the flags of nations—stand on the pedestal of nature. Long may they wave.

We are all here together, at once, at the service of and at the mercy of nature, each other, and our daily acts.

Paul Hawken


About This Image

American Flag

Theme: Nations And Nature

File#: 986-B3

U.S. 47 Morris, IL

August 17, 2013


I took a week to cruise the open fields of mid-state Illinois. At a major intersection in Morris, there where several tall signs advertising fast food and other facilities. The signs were so imposing, I set up my camera and photographed several of them against the sky. I got back in the car and in turning around I spotted this flag flying over a nearly abandoned strip mall.

The photograph doesn’t convey the immensity of this flag. I would estimate that it would easily envelop the largest highway billboards. I positioned the camera so the sun would be directly above the flag. But when it unfurled, part of the flag went out of the frame and the composition was lopsided. I moved the camera around several times, trying to get a good composition. Finally, I decided to center that flag, just as I had the ad signs. The day was windy, so I took several exposures using the fastest shutter speed on the camera, hoping for one where the stripes sharp and nicely backlit. This one succeeded.

2 thoughts on “Nations And Nature

  1. Thanks for the beautiful picture and contemplations. Only through education, communication, personal freedom and economic freedom will we have an “evolved” globe. We need to make personal success the “opiate of the masses”.


  2. What a beautiful reflection! My eye is so trained to look at the photograph here and decide that this is a photograph of an American flag. I would completely miss the interaction between nature and nations and the eloquently articulated message here. I love this contemplation! Thanks!



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: