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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bumper Stickers

I spent 30 minutes yesterday behind a car with what, in my opinion, was a very offensive bumper sticker. I've seen bumper stickers like it, and it got me to thinking about all of the bumper stickers I see out there. So many of them are geared toward offending or attacking someone else.

For example, the popular bumper sticker proclaiming that "My dog is smarter than your honor student."

My question is why. Why do people need to put down someone else's pride in their child? Why do we need to attack other people's religious views? Or political views? Will driving past someone with a "NObama" bumper stinker alter the way I vote? I've never read a bumper sticker that made me question my religion. Actually, the only thing a bumper sticker has made me question is the person who thought that putting on that bumper sticker was a good idea.

One of my friends, Lucille Zimmerman, is a counselor, and I've gotten to critique her book (which is fantastic, and I can't wait until she sells!). She is always asking a question that I've learned to ask in situations like this. "What does this tell me about the other person?"

So as I followed this couple with the offensive bumper stickers, I started to ask myself that question. What does those bumper stickers tell me about these people? First of all, one of them said something about how they weren't inconsiderate, they just didn't care. Wow. What a sad thing to say about oneself, don't you think? And then of course, there were the ignorant religion attacking bumper stickers. Again, as I thought about what it said about these people, I realized that they must not have any hope, and combined with their not caring, they probably didn't really have a whole lot of good in their lives. Instead of being angry, I kind of felt bad for them. And even though knowing it would have probably offended these people, I prayed for them.

Then there was the woman driving around with very sexually explicit bumper stickers. Again, I thought about what they said about her. Not just on the surface, but about what kind of deep wounds must she have that made her feel like she needed every human being who drove past to know exactly how much sex you like, and what thing you're willing to do. I was glad my kids didn't notice or ask me what those words meant, but I knew what those bumper stickers meant. The woman was a broken woman who felt that the only way to prove her strength was to shout out a lot of things that only proved how broken she was.

And sure, there are the positive bumper stickers, like the ones about our families, or how we love our favorite teams, or some of our favorite hobbies, or places to visit? But you know what? I'd rather sit down and have a conversation with you so that we can know these things about each other.

The problem with bumper stickers is that they are just one more piece of the passive aggressive communication prevalent in our society. I won't have a conversation with you about your religion, but I will denigrate it to anyone who drives by. I'm not willing to have an intelligent political discussion with you, but I will slander your favorite candidate. Sex? Well, I'm not going to take the time to get to know a member of the opposite gender and know them as person, instead, I'm going to tell the world how little I respect them. Probably because I'm too insecure to allow myself to be vulnerable in a real relationship.

I don't have a bumper sticker on my car. Although I do have a lovely Dora the Explorer sticker on one of my windows from when a disobedient little girl stuck it there. I can't find a way to get it off without damaging the coating. I imagine what that says about me is that I'm a mom, and just like every other mom, I have kids who don't always listen as they should. And that I don't have the money to take it in to a professional to fix it.

But what I really hope my lack of bumper stickers says about me is that I'd rather have a conversation with you. I'd like to get to know you. And I'd like you to get to know me.

What do your bumper stickers say about you?

1 comment:

Megan DiMaria said...

Yes! I agree with everything you said.

I often think about what the bumper stickers say about the car's owner. Sad.

We don't put bumper stickers on our cars. Never have. We don't feel the need to broadcast our lives in that way.