Friday, January 30, 2015

Reading the Stickers

Every morning, now, I get up at dark-thirty and I walk out into my sleeping neighborhood. One thing I have been noticing is the bumper stickers on parked cars and I think these stickers are helpful in diagnosing the minds of the typical, middle-class American. These people are, after all, the real tide-shifters of American culture, so it matters.

One car I pass, daily, has a "Coexist" sticker.
You've seen them:

On this car, the sticker is surrounded by other stickers you would expect find on the same car: faded Obama campaign stickers; NPR stickers; a sticker with he name of the band "The Black Keys;" etc.

Around the corner from this car, surrounding a "Semper Fi" sticker is and "3" sticker (in honour of Dale Earnhardt of NASCAR fame); a Luke Bryan sticker; an NRA sticker; a sticker of a deer's head; and a "Worst President Ever" sticker.

If Dr. King dreamed of a world in which little black boys and girls would be holding hands with little white boys and girls, I dream of a world in which someone -- anyone -- mixes in NPR bumper sticker with an NRA bumper sticker; in which Luke Bryan fans advertise their interest in NPR; in which Marines put "Coexist" stickers on their bumpers; in which, for that matter, "Coexist" stickers can coexist on the same bumper with NRA, Luke Bryan and Black Keys stickers.

It must be cozy-comfy just slipping on one's morning sweater of prescribed and defined decision making. It must be nice to have one's chosen crowd dictate what one should listen to, enjoy and think -- who to vote for; what position to take in a controversy; how to feel about a movie like American Sniper before even seeing it. 

One doesn't want to act superior, but I can't help invoking Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes, from the episode "A Study in Pink":
"Ha. Look at you lot. You're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing." not have to bother with all of that...reasoning. It really is a very comfortable way to live one's life. It makes convenience look like conviction. People know exactly what to make of you from a distance -- two car-lengths behind, even. Blare the prescribed music loudly enough, and everyone will know where you stand and who you voted for and no energy wasted on conversation. 

Imagine a guy with a "These Colors Don't Run" T-shirt and a Stetson sitting on his pick up truck's tailgate and listening to Bruno Mars while explaining to everyone around him, between sips of wheatgrass juice, how Obamacare puts medical care within reach of all Americans -- all of this as he prepares to go to in to a lecure by Neil DeGrasse Tyson on a Saturday night and Church on Sunday.

Crazy, huh? 


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  2. I've encountered a handful of people like the last paragraph, but not many. It seems to me that most of us conform to sets of expectations and then outwardly express them; I am sometimes guilty of this, especially when I think about topics I haven't researched or considered closely.

    But I also think there are multitudes within every one of us, even those who appear to be holding onto a narrow view; it seems to me that any of us who spend time away from the talking heads usually are willing to pause and consider our differences. We may not change our minds, but it seems possible to take perspective, and in some occasions, to alter a worldview that may not have been as consistence with our "gut feelings" (or the feelings that preexist reason and are most often defended by rationale; most of what I see as reason is a defense of an [or series of] emotional reaction[s]).

    1. Good to hear from you, Matthew. Very true. The multitudes of ideas and viewpoints are, indeed in all of us. We all just (myself included, by the way) need to work at resisting going with the tide out of intellectual laziness. Your last line is dead-on.

    2. It's been a while now since I caught up on your blog. Thanks for always being so consistent; it gives me something thoughtful to read and consider. I hope you continue to be well.

      ~ Matt

    3. Thanks, Matt. All is well. Hope it is the same with you!