Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In which I overthink a bumper sticker

Today we were sitting behind a van at a stoplight and I was examining the many bumper stickers on its back bumper. "Pray to end abortion," one said. "Pro-life," said another. A few more advertised local AM Christian talk radio stations and various conservative viewpoints.

I was looking at the bumper, perplexed because I agreed with every one of the sentiments on the stickers. And yet... I had already decided this person was a crazy-pants.

There's a reason I don't put these kinds of bumper stickers on my car or statuses on my facebook wall. I don't forward mass e-mails whether I agree with them or not, and I generally stay away from hot topics such as abortion or politics on my blog. Because, drama.

But more than that, blunt statements about hot topics do nothing except swiftly and decisively hurl the statement-maker into a stereotype. I don't want to be labeled. Labels are never good. Labels give people an opportunity to disregard you without understanding the background of your stance. And labels remove the opportunity to gain the respect of those who disagree with you.

And without the respect of those who disagree with you? You will have no opportunity to convince them that your views are legitimate. You will have no opportunity to get to know someone different than yourself, and you will therefore have no opportunity to be a witness.

I'm not saying that using a Christian bumper sticker is necessarily a bad thing. But at the same time, you may want to consider how "hot" the issues on your bumper stickers are. You may want to think about how many stickers (or tweets or statuses) of the same message you are putting out there. A message has much more impact if it's delivered once respectfully than many times bluntly.

Consider what your extreme statements are going to look like to others. Insisting "I am right" about an issue may simply be communicating "you are wrong" to someone else.

And when was the last time you ever wanted to listen to anybody who started the conversation with a big fat "you are wrong?"
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