Thursday, June 1, 2006

The latest in distinctive automotive fashion

Just read a post by Nancy, a Friend in Ontario, who tells about placing an Every Church a Peace Church bumper sticker on her car. (ECAPC website here) I started to write her a comment about my own recent "coming out" experience, but I thought I'd just do a post.

A Friend from our meeting had given me the FCNL bumper sticker proclaiming "War is not the answer" over a year ago. It took me until just a couple months ago to finally slap it on my car. I'm not big on bumper stickers. I had one on the very first car I owned, back when I was about 20 or so. I don't recall what it said. It was just something whimsical with a picture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on it. Since then, I've been reluctant to turn my car into a roving billboard.

I've participated in two anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C., as well as several vigils at the local county seat with members of our local peace group. I'm also a member of a local Amnesty International chapter. But, as they say, there's safety in numbers, even if the numbers are small. Gathering with others of like mind is a lot less threatening than a lone display of an unpopular point of view.

For although although Noam Chomsky tries to assure me that there's a "sharp divide between public opinion and public policy," I can't help feeling that my point of view is largely unpopular. At best, I sense an aura of "well, the government has sure made some blunders but ... it's not patriotic to rock the boat" ... a sort of collective mantra: Whatever happens, we mustn't openly admit we've been wrong ...

It was the second wave of Abu Ghraib photos that did it. I just couldn't stand being silent any longer, for silence implies consent ... or so the old saying goes.

So I finally put both the FCNL bumper sticker and one that had just arrived from Amnesty International (Torture: Stop it. Investigate it. Prosecute it.) on my car.

I totally understand how Nancy feels. I feel the same:

..."there it is on my car for all the world to see. My neighbours, my friends, dog walkers, shoppers. It's like I'm outed as a pacifist....I feel naked."

No one has accosted me or reacted with hostility. Almost no one.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a work-related conference in the D.C. area. I suddenly found myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic and thought, I have to be crazy driving down here with an anti-war sticker on my car!

Fortunately, the only incident I can report took place on the way back from the conference. A red pickup truck passed me to the left on the interstate. A young man naked to the waist (well...that was all of him I could see) leaned out the passenger-side window, turned very deliberately toward me, and spat. The pickup was way ahead by that time, however, so his gesture was purely symbolic.

The only other thing I dread is the reaction of some family members who will be visiting soon. Or rather, their nonreaction, for I know they won't say anything. Once again, tension so thick you can cut it with a knife. It's the flip side of open hostility, in its own way just as nerve-wracking. I know they won't say anything but that the distance between us will widen.

But hey, there's also this totally practical plus: I can spot my car more easily in the huge parking lot at the end of the day!


  1. Thank you for the public display of your feelings of war. I don't have a sticker of any kind on my car. I have been involved in a couple of "Eyes Wide Open" displays and a few demonstrations. I question the usefulness of any of these actions, but it seems to be the only things that I can do.

    I was on the other side of the fence durring the Vietnam era. I saw these demonstrations in a different light then. You are asking young men and women to live and work in a very dangerous place and then symbolicaly spitting on them when they return. These kids are put into a no win situation, hung out to dry for a year, if they survive they can look forward to going home to an ungrateful nation.

    Oops! I'm getting long winded and preachy(?WORD) I only ask for the courage of your convictions. It's eazy to be against war, most people in the army are, the hard thing is to find the common ground. It sounds like you have a chance to make peace with your own family, please don't let the distance widden.


  2. Hi GMC,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    First of all, it's not the young men and women I have a problem with. It's the people at the top, the ones who make policy, the ones who send the kids to war. Also, there are people like Chuck Fager who fight to get returning veterans the medical and psychological care they need. The kids are promised lots of things by recruiters, but our country does not come through for them when they return broken and ill.

    Second, being against war did not come easy to me. I was brought up to equate the law of the land with the law of God. It is with great anguish that I have come to certain conclusions about the nature of our government's policies and my obligation to oppose them. During the Vietnam era, when there were protests on college campuses, I was obedient and compliant.

    That said, I do appreciate your heartfelt words about reaching out to family, and I will do my best to put them into practice.

    Thanks for taking the time to write.

  3. aurais-tu un autocollant à m'envoyer???

  4. Et lequel veux-tu, l'autocollant de l'organisation législative Quaker ou celui d'Amnesty? Et surtout: tu vas le coller où ?? sur la poubelle ???


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