Who Owns the Color Green?

Photo Credit: UN /JC Mcllwaine

Although perhaps not popular as red or blue or even black, several different nationalities, cultures and religions lay claim to green; and on St. Patrick’s it is the color of the Irish. Green has also become the color of, well the “Green Movement” or environmentalism. Green traditionally has been associated with the Islamic religion, along with white. Obviously this is another thing that ISIS got wrong by adopting a black flag – it appears that menacing is the most important message that ISIS wishes to convey.

Colors and flags are also important in the protocol and symbolism of the United Nations. Each day the flags of all the member states are raised before the UN – 193 currently. A cursory glance would imply red and blue as favorites; but green, white and black are more present than one may initially glance. Also, there are a few colors that might appear a bit less often but more striking including purple, gold and the various variations on particularly green and blue – the turquoise of the calm sea is a personal favorite. However, be aware that dependent on your own color sensation, not to mention degree of color blindness, the hue in the color may be perceived differently by any one individual. Of course, the emotions aroused also differ, and that goes beyond the pure effect of synesthesia although I think that such also sways our senses, from patriotism to belonging. (See: “Do You See or Taste Music?”)

When I attended a British private school in Libya, “Tripoli College,” as a young boy in the 1960’s, I was assigned to one of four teams that was involved in all forms of competition and teamwork, from athletics to academics, a bit of “Harry Potter’s” Hogwarts in North Africa. My team’s color was blue, and I think it has from that point influenced my affinity all things blue. (Playing for the Tulane “Green Wave” did not alter my preference, and I was very pleased when our jersey’s took an olive-blue hue.) I suspect the same predisposition of sports fans who wear their teams colors as uniforms, for good or bad.

The UN has its own colors, a powder blue and white, mostly intended to affect the notion of a non-aggressive institution as well as harmonizing world body. Consequently, UN peacekeepers most frequently wear blue informs, berets and particularly helmets. The tag of “Blue Helmets” is frequently a synonym for UN peacekeepers, but it has not always been intended as a compliment and at times including in Bosnia it meant helpless or at least neutral even in the face of conflict and aggression. Nonetheless, the UN and its colors I think are more likely to be associated with good rather than inept. Then, we may also come to see the colors of green and white prevail as symbols of our commitment to peace, to each other, to all living things, the Earth – and of course, always St. Patrick’s Day, when all of us can claim green as our own.

By, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey
@ MuhamedSacirbey



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