Red Flag Day takes you straight back to early U2. The raw exuberance, the spiritual energy. It evokes deep inside of me the same soul fuel that songs like I Will Follow, Gloria and New Years Day did back in the day. It wasn’t long, after first hearing, until it’s melody was randomly falling across my brain and having me sing it out loud.
Red Flag Day is the third song in a row that deals with the refugee crisis. American Soul challenges the United States’ original idea of being a welcome for the downtrodden of the world and Summer Of Love looks across, from a distance geographical and experiential, to the place that the refugees are leaving from.
In Red Flag Day we are inside the heads and hearts of the refugee. Someone is desperate to escape the hell of a war in Syrian and to take their loved ones with them. They are going into the sea, ignoring all the dangers. The red flag image is again perhaps what warns the U2 families of the dangers of that same sea when they holiday in France, the other side of the same Mediterranean.
There’s a potent little depth charge that sends ripples and waves up through our souls.
“Today we can’t afford to be afraid of what we fear”
That of course references those leaving the safety of the shore to sail out into a tumultuous sea. They have to get over the fear of their red flag.
BUT… in the safety of our western European countries and in America we must get over our fear of the refugee seeking a place to flee the most violent of wars. Our fear of the terrorist abusing Islam in their bloody terror should not cause us to fear the ordinary Syrian Muslim who needs to find a refuge for their families.
It would be easy for this song to be a frightening dead end but U2 never voyage towards hopelessness. Oh, there is fear and bodies shaking but in the end this is about the courage to risk all for a better day. The song becomes a clarion call for all of us looking for what’s better.
Like Summer Of Love we are hearing about the sky clearing and paradise. Red Flag Day energises me for mission. It challenges me into more dangerous waters to achieve more incredible things for myself and for others… the refugee perhaps!