Saturday, November 06, 2010

Coexist Sticker is Snide?

According to a local blogger, the coexist bumper sticker (which spells the out the word with various symbols, many being religious) is “snide.” The post was referencing a picture that is supposed to explain the “truth” behind the sticker’s message (originally found on Jihad Watch). The “explanation” is essentially that Islam wants to take over the world and Christianity isn’t a threat to anyone. Yes there are elements of Islam that want to take over the world, and those need to be stopped, but there are also elements of Christianity that have totalitarian leanings and if they were not held in check by the secular nature of our modern societies I suspect that many bad things would come of those tendencies. That however is not the point that I want to address.

When I first saw this sticker, I saw it as a message to Muslims, Jews, and Christians that we need to find ways to get along. The fact is that these three faiths have been at each others throats for hundreds of years and it needs to stop. All three hold a common heritage, all three share sacred stories, and all three worship the same deity, yet all three have tried to destroy each other at one point in time. Now I cannot say for certain what the intention of designer of this sticker was, no more than the person who made the explanatory picture, but I don’t see it as an attack solely on Christianity. If anything this is a sticker of hope. It holds a message that yes we can get along if we actually try, but it takes all parties trying to make it happen. And that is a message that is equally targeted at Muslims as much as it is Christians.

I guess more than anything, the way that one views this or any sticker is based on perspective and worldview. For those who believe in the culture war and think that Christianity is under attack from all sides, it makes sense that they would see a sticker like this as snide or annoying. We all have things that push our buttons. For years I was really annoyed by those “His Pain is Your Gain” t-shirts. I thought that they were over-the-top but admittedly that may have had more to do with the holier-than-thou attitude of the people I encountered wearing the shirts more than the shirts themselves.

Things like bumper stickers and t-shirts are interesting phenomena. Some display simple messages that are seem to be designed to simply express an opinion (the “I Vote By the Book” and yellow equal sign stickers come to mind) and some seem to be designed to be antagonistic (like the old “Impeach Clinton and her Husband Too” sticker). I have a friend that used to have a sticker on her car that said “annoy a leftist.” Now she is a super nice and intelligent person and a staunch conservative (more so fiscally speaking than socially). Well one day she was starting a new job and got berated by some guy for being a “knuckle dragger” (among other things). He didn’t know her from Adam but made the assumption based on the sticker on her car. That sticker is one that I would call antagonistic. Sure it is funny but it is also meant to get under peoples skins more than express an opinion (at least that is my assumption since I don’t know what the person who made it was thinking). Sometime I wonder if these antagonistic stickers and t-shirts do more harm than good. They spread divisive messages into an already divided populace and do nothing more than dig people in and squash dialogue. Then again maybe I’m giving these things more power than they deserve.

As for the coexist sticker, I’d actually like to get one for my car but I’m not sure where to locally pick one up. And on a final, somewhat related note; the funniest bumper sticker that I have ever seen my brother found once in a head shop, it said “Jesus may love you, but I think you’re an asshole.” That isn’t something that I would ever put on my car or hang up in my home but it is fitting for my heavy metal big bro.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny post.

If you really want to pick up a coexist bumper sticker, check your local Unitarian Universalist church. Or, you can try the website. We have tons of 'em.