More Bumper Sticker Musings

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.

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8 Replies to “More Bumper Sticker Musings”

  1. Interesting musings, those, RJ!

    Stickers proclaining some aspect of ‘Love’ usually accompany a Christian symbol in my experience (the little fish motif perhaps or a cross) – which makes it even less papatable and more ironic, due to the circumstances you so eloquently list.
    🙁 Same for those proclaiming “Right is Right” text encompassed within the outline of the Fish symbol.

  2. When I first moved to the US, one of the things that was very visible immediately to me was the bumper stickers in cars. I think it’s a great symbol of “we are all thinking the same way”. After 9/11 almost all the cars had the “support our troops” sticker… now it is hard to see one. Of course I live in very liberal part of the country, unlike you RJ…! 🙂

  3. Twilight – I tend to just ignore the ‘Christian’ bumper stickers. This car stood out as not having any. Of course, it’s likely the occupant was religious and just hadn’t purchased her fish, (these things don’t come cheap, you know ;-)), or it had dropped off.
    Either way, at first glance it appeared in opposition to the usual rubbish displayed on fenders, until my musings made me realize, in fact, it really wasn’t.

    Nevin – if you’ve no “Support Our Troops” stickers in your neck of the woods it must be very liberal. There’s still a plethora of them round here – and Illinois is classed as a ‘blue’ state! Twilight’s Oklahoma is even worse. She has Tom Coburn and James Inhofe!

  4. “if you’ve no “Support Our Troops” stickers in your neck of the woods it must be very liberal.”

    This sentence made me smile…. I get it! :):)

  5. Am I allowed mine which has made strangers )(ALL American, LOL) into friends.

    Mine says: “Got Knitting?”

    of course you can take any meaning in the world out of that.

    I’m catching up on blogland, been off working for the last few days….

    Good Post!

    XO
    WWW

  6. I have about 8 bumper stickers on my car. I am opinionated. However, I believe my opinions are fact-based. And my bumper stickers are too.

    here are a few stickers i have on my car:

    – ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for you.
    – if you don’t like gay marriage blame straight people. they’re the ones who keep having gay babies.
    – a nation of sheep will be run by pigs.
    – jesus was a liberal
    – jesus would never own a gun or vote republican.
    – thought criminal
    – a great big peace sign

  7. Amanda – problems arise because everybody else considers their opinions (and bumper stickers) are fact-based also.

    We all think we’re right, and maybe we are. But more likely, we’re all hopelessly wrong. 🙂

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