Call me shallow, but I have days when sighting a good bumper sticker will make me ridiculously happy or, at least, amused.
Last year, my favorite bumper sticker was God Bless the World — No Exceptions, which always made me smile, even if I’m not religious. It seemed to call up what I consider to be the very best quality in any religion — the good will — while very stubbornly and subversively insisting that no one, however wretched or hopeless or politically liberal, would be rebuffed. That kind of religion and openheartedness I could appreciate and will take it wherever I can find it, including the rear end of a car.
More recently, I’ve added a new favorite to my bumper-sticker wisdom hall of fame. Follow Those Who Seek God. Run From Those Who Find Him. Yes, exactly! Like my earlier favorite, it was perched on the back bumper of a rattle-trap car (they always have the best bumper stickers, for my money; Hummers and Tahoes never do, unless you get a particular thrill out of learning that little Ashley or Trevor play lacrosse or are honor students at a school you’ve never heard of or the driver loves one particular breed of dog. And that dog, by the way, is smarter than little Ashley or Trevor and has the added bonus of not requiring orthodontia or piano lessons or a college diploma, so there).
But — follow the seekers, reject the certain, the smug, the self-righteously sneering. As long as you’re at it, embrace uncertainty and doubt, because the world is a crazy, troubled and often merciless place and we’re all — no exceptions! — just trying to get by.
All of that was surging through my jumbled mind when I spotted yet another bumper sticker. It was small and dark and discreet, with fine white print against a black background. W: Thank you.
Now, I could have accidentally rammed the car, since it was sitting, innocently enough, in a shopping center parking lot. But no, I took the high road, which I occasionally do, especially when I don’t want to mess up my own car or upset my insurance company. Besides, I reminded myself, I’d been mentally blabbing about embracing doubt and openheartedness and maybe even tolerance. And isn’t it great that we live in the kind of country that includes vicious windbags like Rush Limbaugh and people who believe the earth is a few thousand years old and drivers who are grateful to the 23rd letter in the alphabet? No exceptions!
Call me shallow, call me inconsistent, call me soon, but I’m struggling with that one.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)