Opinion: The peace sign: A safe greeting and sign of victory over the Age of COVID-19


As the Age of COVID-19 demands new rules of social interaction for the immediate future, a South Florida nonprofit organization has an important suggestion for how we can greet one another safely and pleasantly. The handshake is a memory, as are charming habits such as freely hugging anyone who seemed they might enjoy it and kisses on the cheek, so common in many cultures outside the United States especially.

The Humanity Project humbly offers a solution drawn from the hippie past. The two-finger vertical peace sign, which can also double as a V for victory over COVID-19. It's a win in every way!

According to the Daily Mirror newspaper in the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill was far from the first to use that famous World War II symbol for victory over the Nazis: The "V for Victory" was first used by English longbowmen in the 1415 Battle of Agincourt to mock the defeated French army. The longbowmen relied on these two fingers to fire their arrows to deadly effect upon the enemy, which was a key factor in the victory, even though there were more than double the number of French troops and, ironically, the English troops had been losing many to infectious disease, decimating their ranks leading into the famous battle. The V-sign represented a show of defiance and derision by the English soldiers and showed the French army that all they needed was these two fingers to win the bloody battle. Even more ironically and timely to us is that the archery - unlike hand-to-hand combat the French were prepared for with few French archers - didn't require contact.

Once the martial V evolved into the '60s peace sign, it became a sweet symbol of togetherness, of a caring humanity. The Humanity Project founder Bob Knotts recalls those days and flashes back to them frequently, especially when greeting or leaving the company of other long-haired folks of the period. As he found himself using the peace sign more, especially lately, he reflected that it still means "hello friend" or perhaps "goodbye friend." As such, it's a beautiful display of bonding among people.

As an organization devoted to "equality for each, respect for all," The Humanity Project aims to encourage people to use the peace sign to replace other warm gestures of greeting or goodbye. It is an all-purpose, post-Great Lockdown, socially distanced method of demonstrating our affection, friendliness or just general pleasantness. It might even provide a way to tap into the large reservoir of loving social consciousness that was one hallmark of the hippie era and that we are seeing globally among many as people cope with and create during the pandemic.

The world needs something joyful, something widely understood and widely shared to replace the handshake, the hug and the cheek kiss, doesn't it? The peace sign just could be it.

The Humanity Project will be sharing this idea on Instagram live on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. For more information about The Humanity Project, see our website, www.thehumanityproject.com.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., syndicated by PeaceVoice, teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology.