Thursday Throwback: COEXIST

No one asked for it, but today I’m reprinting something from my old blog.  It has special meaning for me, because it marks the day that an entire branch of my extended family stopped speaking to me.

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In the “I’m Too Late For a Dentist Appointment To Key Your Car Right Now, But I’ll Get You Later” department, we have this bumper sticker:

which has been cropping up all over our area.

I live near a college town, which makes me, by definition, fatter, slower, less hip, and more endarkened than 60% of the population. Bumper stickers abound: mostly of the “I heart peace/let’s behead Bush” variety.

The cars so intelligently adorned seem to congregate outside a store called “The Hemporium.” I always enjoy passing by this place, because it has a huge banner over the door, proclaiming: “Come in and educate yourself!” irresistibly bringing to mind the Lilo and Stitch alien Pleakley,

 

an Earth enthusiast who devotes himself to the preservation of the mosquito food chain.

Anyway, as a claustrophobic, misanthropic, misogynistic, pediphobic, clutter-hating mother of twenty-seven who lives in a self-storage unit, I’m all for coexisting. I’ve even been known to . . . are you ready for this? . . . tolerate people who aren’t exactly like me. Mainly because everyone I know has managed, through twelve step programs and extensive plastic surgery, to avoid being exactly like me.

If by “coexist” you mean “don’t kill people who don’t agree with you,” I am all for that (although I’m not sure who worries that this message is going unheard in rural Southern New Hampshire). Or if there are people who do need to hear this message . . . you really think a bumper sticker will change their minds? Do me a favor and go nag yourselves, if you know what I mean.

I guess it wouldn’t be so grating if it just spelled out its little one-word sermon in regular letters, although I realize the message would lost some of its putative punch that way. I see what they’re trying to do by using symbols as letters: they’re trying to say that all of these ideas–Christianity, Judaism, Peace (which is separate from Christianity, dontcha know), Yin Yangitude, etc.– all fit together into one large, overarching shelter called “coexistence.”

It’s terribly fashionable to take important, very specific ideas and paste them into a collage demonstrating Everythingness. They’re trying to say, “Can’t we all just get along?” without sounding like a punchline.

Well, this is worse than using a picture of child’s face as a mouse pad, which is unseemly. This is worse than using the American flag as boxer shorts or dish towels, which is disrespectful. By using meaningful symbols as mere letters in a word, this bumper sticker subsumes the significant and specific into a suffocating mass of indiscriminate acceptance.

Don’t use the cross as a T, okay? And don’t use the star of David as an X. They’re not, like, logos for “Jesus Brand” and “Judaism, Inc.” Don’t tell me “it’s just a design” or “we were going for the visual impact — don’t read too much into it.” You should be glad someone’s paying attention to your message.

I don’t think it’s blasphemous; I just think it’s dangerously careless. Are you sure you want to just swallow down that soup without checking out the ingredients first? A few of those symbols look awfully prickly.

And fish that cross out for me! I need it.

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