I stopped at the red light this morning, and there it was in front of me: a Honda Civic, black, the driver – murky behind misted glass, but – obviously female.
Neither the person, nor the car, attracted my attention. It was the stickers on the trunk lid that caught my eye.
On the left side was written: “LOVE WINS”; on the right: “LIFE IS GOOD”.
While it’s refreshing, perhaps, not to be assailed by hate messages, or the usual redneck expressions of insecurity: “LEAVE THE BITCH AND COME HUNTING”, or, “MEN DO IT IN HUMMERS”, I have to admit these more positive affirmations still sat uncomfortably within my head as the black Honda took a side turn and disappeared into the dawn.
Drive through any European country and the number of bumper stickers, or other printed displays of opinion, will be glaringly obvious by their absence. There’s no law against it, and the occasional vehicle may be found carrying just such an item, but, so rarely, it’s a profound novelty.
In the Western world, at least, to display one’s feelings and emotions to all around, in such a manner, is almost uniquely American. So much so, it begs the simple question: why?
Why do so many Americans find it necessary to bare their souls in this manner. It’s as though they’re afraid the things they hold dear will be whipped away from them in an instant. That, by not declaring their beliefs, someone will assume no-one has them any more, and terminate them.
Americans are pitted against each other in a way unknown to any other civilized nation. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the bitter wrangling colloquially called a ‘political rally’, or ‘town hall meeting’, though bitterness permeates not just the political scene, but almost every aspect of society.
This negativity is at odds with a general neighborliness so much revered by the American people, and often noted by foreigners visiting these shores.
I think what made me uneasy about the black Honda’s declarations was that, like all other pronouncements, torn and flapping in the breeze behind an inordinate array of US motor vehicles, they’re just totally untrue.
Just as not doing ‘it’ in a Hummer doesn’t mean you’re not a man, and treating your wife badly will probably achieve nothing short of being brained by a frying pan, so neither does love always win, or is life constantly good – at least, not in a general, all-embracing, sense.
The car’s occupant may be convinced that love will eventually conquer the world, rather than the enormous firepower of her nation’s military, and, for her, life may well be a bed of roses, but it isn’t the case for everyone.
To publicize such an assertion is to demand others feel the same way, as if to not be so is, in some way, a weakness. But isn’t that the case with all these US bumper stickers – they’re just a declaration that, “I’m right, and you’re wrong.”
The owner of the black Honda has given no thought whatever to the lives of the many people caught up in the grimness of civil war or unrest throughout the world; the plight of the starving; the diseased without hope; those afflicted by the results of her own nation’s depleted uranium bombs.
For millions in the world life is vile, and death a blessed relief. As for love, it belongs no place there are weapons. And in America, weapons are everywhere. No-one can look down the barrel of an AK47, or a Walther P38, and love their victim.
Sadly, it’s hate, not love, that wins out every time.
The owner of the black Honda Civic is either incredibly naive, or totally self-obsessed.
Filed under: Something about wood and trees