Both interesting and frustrating to me is how we all see the world through a heavy set of biased lenses, based on our past experiences, deeply-held beliefs, and projections. On small scales usually this isn’t a big issue but it quickly becomes problematic when applied to large groups. 

What do you think of when you hear the terms “millennials,” “socialists,” “baby boomers,” “true believers,” or even “white-collar?” I assume that everyone has some measure of preconceived notion that pops into their head – I surely do – which will shade or influence whatever else is being described. Language matters, but not only language but imagery as well.

There is a growing online community of people who use the semicolon as a source of strength, particularly in the face of depression, anxiety, or self-destructive behavior. It represents the idea that instead of ending a sentence, an author could instead choose to continue it after a pause. A sentence in this case representing a life.

Many have written about this growing movement of expression, some in great ways, but I have noticed that in many articles, journals, and blogs the symbol denotes a more religious connotation, that the person’s life was spared or they find necessary strength through faith.

For a while I had considered getting a semicolon tattoo, to remind me in some small way of that phrase which so readily came from my grandmother: “this too shall pass.” I have overcome a lot, and continue to struggle with a lot, but every day I wake up and I try the best I can. What stopped me from getting such a tattoo, in a big part, was the idea that the symbol, if seen, could be taken as a nod toward organized religion; something with which I do not wish to be associated.

I find myself having often given the advice “if it’s important and meaningful to you, go for it.” I suppose I’m poor at taking my own advice, because I regularly worry about what and how others (that abstract and ephemeral concept) would view me, judge me.

I don’t really have an answer to this dilemma, or advice for myself. I hope that, some day, I can get better at moving past my own internal biases, and that others can too. Maybe at that point we all could enjoy a more free society.