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TITLE: Tag, you're it!
By Lesley-Anne Evans

“Oh, that makes me mad. That really makes me really mad”, I said to my husband as we drove past a strip mall decorated with graffiti.

“Why can’t the owners clean it up?”, I asked. “The longer they leave it, the more graffiti appears. If I had my way I’d go around with some paint and a brush and cover it up myself. And if I caught those kids, they’d be doing community service for a very long time! Where are their parents anyway?”. My tirade complete, we drove on but I kept thinking about it.

Have you noticed the increase in tagging around our community recently? The taggers are bolder. A few years ago, graffiti was usually found on backs of industrial buildings, bus stops, or mail boxes. But today, I see tags on the front of commercial buildings, on residential property, on front yard fences and last week I saw it on a mini-van. And we don’t live in the inner city, if you can call downtown that. This is the whitewashed suburbs where I’m seeing the graffiti. It really gets under my skin. It really bugs me!

So, what’s with tagging anyway? I did a little research into it, and tagging, or graffiti is about making a mark. Nothing too surprising about that. Personal expression, rebellious expression, gang identification, all types of graffiti leave a mark to say ,“I was here” and/or “this is my turf.”

Graffiti has been around since ancient Greece and Rome, and can be anything from scratches to elaborate wall paintings. Today, graffiti artists use spray paint and marker to scrawl their marks onto property. A tag is defined as a graffito consisting of a word or words rather than a picture. Most times the word tagged is the name of the author. Generally, culture has deemed both types of personal expression to be unsightly and undesired vandalism.

And while the idea of defacing private property is not acceptable to me at all, I began to think about the meaning behind the tagging and how it might have an application in my own life. In other words, what am I passionate enough about to leave my mark on? What have I signed my name to lately that says I was here and I made a difference? That this is my turf?

Have I left my mark at work when I set my own agenda on the back burner and consider my co-worker’s point of view for a change? Have I left my mark in my church by stepping up and being a willing participant in whatever needs done, not just the thing that I am best suited to do? Am I leaving a mark on my children, or are they more impacted by the X-box or their friends then they are by my words of encouragement and wisdom? Am I leaving a mark on my spouse as I work at not taking offence at every little thing, at giving grace rather than attitude, at thinking of his needs first rather than my own? Am I leaving my mark in my neighbourhood, on my neighbour, on my friends and aquaintances?

Or, am I happily living a mediocre life, not making any waves, not taking a stand on anything, doing the minimum and getting by? Making a mark takes energy, determination and discipline, and sometimes the cost seems way too high. Is it worth it?

I need to draw your attention back to the title of this article which suggests something very important. Tag... YOU’RE it! If YOU don’t do something, someone else will, or might, or could, or won’t. If you believe in a providential purpose for your life, then by doing nothing you are missing the mark and the fulfillment that comes from being all you were created to be. Yes it takes some work to figure out what the ‘to do’ is, but it’s also a pretty simple concept that can be summed up in the golden rule. Treat others as you would have them treat you. Or in the words of my kid’s elementary school slogan, “God first, other’s second, me third.” Can we live like that? I think living like that would leave a big mark... a beautiful tag on the face of this world.

So heading into 2008, I choose to carry this vision in my head... a vision of all of us, unique colours of spraypaint in hand, venturing out into a new day.
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