I was at a shop down the road, where I saw something I hadn't before. A National Flag banner made of cloth. I was pleased as punch. I never buy paper flags, because they tear, land up in bins, or worse still on the roadside with muck and filth and are hard to preserve. I hate insulting the flag that way. So I bought the banner. I will preserve it.
I hung it up on my front door and felt unusually emotional. I took pride and joy, and experienced a feeling akin to reverence. Then, I experienced first hand something I always knew existed in theory. Let me explain. Idols, icons and other personifications of god, an intelligence or whatever you believe in, serve to reinforce that belief. A large number of human beings need that tangibility that idols provide to fuel a feeling of reverence, faith, or call it what you will. A person's ideologies or beliefs are the most stringent sanctions upon his or her thought and behaviour.
There are some who need no manifestations of tangibility. They are not superior, just in a different state of being, have a different mindset.
I identify myself as an Indian first. My banner upon my door, reinforced in me my feeling of pride, love and sorrow for my country. I too needed tangibility to reinforce something I feel strongly about. I do think monotheistic religions who do not 'pander to idolatry' or condemn it as a creation of the heathen are unduly self-righteous. Idols are material culture. Symbols have a role to play. I think dogmatic faiths need to do a rethink and be more accepting. They do not need to start worshipping idols or having symbols, they just need to be more accepting. Agnostics, atheists, scientists also need to be aware of a role symbolism plays in society.
This will not take them away from their ideologies. Those who are followers of science may follow science, no harm done. I follow science myself. But there is a need among this group to be un-scornful, if there is such a word, of those who bow to idols. Idols have a role to play. They have a role. All material culture is born of functionality. That is why every nation has a National Flag. For it is a symbol and it weaves a nation together, provides people with a national identity which in turn preserves territorial integrity and sovereignty of a nation -- which is vital for world peace.