I love bacon! But when I buy my bacon, I always look for a non-Muslim cashier to pay at.
Or if it is a Muslim person, I always apologise to them for having to touch my bacon.
I know I don’t have to, but I’ve always done it as an adult, because I like being considerate of others.
I also want that cashier to know that I see her, I see her religion, and I respect both.
It’s the same reason the world doesn’t display the swastika in the presence of Jewish people.
It’s also why alcohol sponsors don’t insist that Muslim sports people wear their branding.
Logos, signs, statues and slurs may be innocuous to some, but to others they are powerful symbols of oppression and prejudice.
And they are especially hurtful when they are used by certain groups who display a nostalgic longing for different times.
The thing that sets us apart from wild animals may well be our ability to reason and think critically, but as we evolve as a society, we are starting to understand that such critical thinking also needs to extend to empathy.
I don’t have any feelings towards bacon or the swastika, but I do know that it offends others and I want to be mindful of that and respect their religious convictions or their pain.
And that brings me to the old South African flag.
In all honesty, I don’t have any strong feelings about it one way or the other, either.
I see it as part of our ugly history that I don’t ever want to forget.
But I do know that it offends the majority of my fellow South Africans, and that’s something I’m not prepared to do.
Now some may argue that the current democratic flag does the same for some people.
The difference is that apartheid is not just universally condemned, but it is offensive from basic human principles.
For those who had an emotional attachment to the old flag, nobody will object if you hang it quietly in your lapa for you and your friends to enjoy.
But that’s not the case, is it?
It’s being loudly hauled out and waved publicly to form part of your protest, a protest, which according to you has nothing to do with a longing for apartheid South Africa.
Do you not see the contradiction?
It’s as if Germans had to protest against poor infrastructure, using Nazi flags!
It makes no sense, and you can’t separate the symbol from its hurtful legacy. Even if you don’t get it.
And even if you don’t understand last week’s Equality Court ruling that makes it illegal to display the old flag in a gratuitous manner, there is some basic logic that sets you apart from wild animals; and that is the ability to sympathise and not do or promote anything that will cause physical or emotional harm to another person.
To me, bacon is lekker and adds to the deliciousness of everything it’s added to.
That is far from the truth for some of my neighbours and fellow South Africans.
Not deliberately shoving it into the faces doesn’t take away from me living a meaningful life either.
I simply accept that it is offensive and hurtful to do so.
And that is all you need to know to stop displaying the old flag publicly.
For modern patriots, it’s also all that should matter.