On April 11, 2006
I’ve never had a bumper sticker on my car. Never really had anything I felt all that strongly about, maybe.
Or maybe I just never had anything I felt really strongly about that I thought could be captured on a bumper sticker. Or that anything that could be captured on a bumper sticker, and widely understood, necessarily had to be so simple a thing as to be trivial, even trite – and therefore insufficiently descriptive. So simple as to almost be insulting to the depth of complexity in thought and experience we grant ourselves free of charge. Even as we all too often tend to ascribe ill motive and bad faith to those we do not know well, but with whom we disagree on some topic. Believing as we do, that our complexity affords us some degree of authenticity in which The Other, acting as he is in manifest bad faith (for daring to disagree with us) cannot share.
Disagreeing as he does on some topic, like the one you can occasionally see on a bumper sticker.
I have mentioned this before, I think. This encapsulation of the One True Thing that we must – WE MUST! – permanently affix to our cars. As a way of building coalitions of like minded souls perhaps.
But much more often, it seems to me, these bumper stickers are designed not to build alliances with people whom, for the most part, avoiding highway accidents, we will never really meet, but rather those whom we pass, or who pass us, anonymously. You cannot build comradeship with someone you will never meet.
But you can – you can – seek to offend those who would disagree with you on that One True Thing you hold so dear. And you can do so anonymously, without any need to further explain or defend your point of view, without any fear of rebuttal or disgrace. How pleasant it must be to hold an unpopular opinion, and be able to rub into the faces of the brain-dead sheeple, and never have to worry about getting shaken down for your lunch money after, like in high school. What a secret, humid pleasure, what private, moist, furtive joy…
You will want to know at this point what has me going on in such a manner. Briefly, thus: Returning home today from the salt mines, I saw one of those hybrid cars that all of us, gas going at $3.00 to the gallon, are starting to look at thoughtfully. On his rear window, this single message:
“Save a soldier – buy a hybrid.”
Do you not see it, gentle reader? Is it not brilliant in its self-satisfied smugness? Is it not entirely complete, a thing of unique, navel-gazing beauty in and of itself? Is anything further required to see all the
cherished assumptions facts fall into line?
We did not go to war in Iraq to protect ourselves from WMD’s, or to plant the seed of democracy in the heart of tyrannical darkness, or any of the other 19, mutually supportive reasons given by public men and women in the open debate before the war, or even Just Because. We did it for the OIL!!!
And you, not having yet made the choice – and it is still a choice – to buy a hybrid vehicle, are not only spending too much on gas, gentle reader. You are morally deficient. Because you don’t care about the soldiers!
I pulled up alongside the hybrid vehicle atop my two-banger, opposed cylinder, 40 mile to the gallon BMW R1150GS motorcycle and looked into the driver’s side glass for a long moment. He didn’t look back at me. Didn’t make eye contact. Didn’t want to acknowledge my existence. I’d already served my role in his little theatre. I could go now.
He’d made his point.