The Rev. Randy Dollins: Bumper sticker blunder
June 4, 2010
Bumper stickers are like tattoos — they seem like a great idea at the time, but later on people tend to regret them and they're really tough to remove.
At least with bumper stickers you get to leave them behind when you buy a different car.
I am not a bumper sticker person. I have never put a bumper sticker on my car. One time, I had a Denver Nuggets license plate frame, but I decided not to keep it when I bought a new car. I don't even like the tag that dealers put on cars. All I want is the brand, the make and model, and a non-personalized license plate.
On the road, we all form quick opinions about people who are driving around us. If you are behind me, I would rather have you form your opinion based on my driving rather than by some propaganda that I have posted.
Besides, your eyes should be on the road, not reading a message.
Further, I believe that no person has ever been converted to a new way of thinking because of a message that appeared on the car in front of him.
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Sitting at a stop light, no one has ever said to themselves, "You know what, because I have read that politician's name on the back of this here Buick, I think I will vote for him."
Or, "Yeah, that is wrong, I am going to join the fight."
I think it is most likely the opposite. People forget messages that they agree with and actually become more galvanized against ones they oppose.
Even if I agree with the message, I hope that the person will find a different way to express it.
Normally I have one of three responses to a bumper sticker: 1) Laughter. Some stickers are original and funny, they add some amusement to my day and, for a minute, I think that the driver is clever.
2) Anger. If the message is contrary to my opinion, I start to dislike the driver.
3) Disappointment. Some bumper stickers make me think that the driver is a moron, or at least naïve, or possibly a bigot, for advancing such a position.
Whether I am angry or disappointed, I am now negatively disposed toward you and you haven't even been driving too slow, cut me off, or crossed the center line — yet.
Sometimes the person driving the other car isn't even the person who put the sticker there to begin with; essentially they are driving with an imposed handicap.
Promoting a message should be dialogical, something that you talk about, or even argue about, but not something you just throw out to the world.
The whole thing seems passive-aggressive.
If you have an agenda to promote, become a living witness of that cause and enter into a real dialogue with others.
If someone let's me merge, I am more likely to let another merge.
Essentially, you can evangelize the world from your car, without a single word, just by being a courteous driver.