Today I followed a black sedan with the words “White Boy” printed in large black letter on the back window. I wondered why, though the racial designation may be true, any sane person would want to proclaim this for the world to see and respond to. The sign wasn’t made to define, but to provoke. In some places the driver could get shot for his sign.
In a recent newsarticle a psychologist stated that people with bumper stickers and window signs are dealing with unresolved anger; that these are drivers of which one should steer clear. While I fail to see how “Baby on Board” is indicative of flaming rage, I do understand the gist of the expert’s statement and agree with it in general.
I have seen a van about town, its windows sporting unkind statements about our current president and his administration. Since the statements change almost daily, to witness them is like scanning the headlines of one’s newspaper. While most citizens agree with the sentiments expressed, some do not and therein lies the rub—or the angry phone calls. I know this driver and I know he has received threatening phone calls suggesting that he keep his windows bare or else. We live in a rural town, but if he lived in a larger city, he might well be deceased by now.
He’s angry and is wearing his heart, not on his sleeve, but on his van. If you drive anywhere, you see his fellow signmongers. We live in a world that has not taught us how to deal with conflict by compromise or in a peaceful manner. We carry that anger around with us, our own personal powder keg ready to explode. Playing nice most of the time, we don’t realize the powder is tamped down nicely, all the better to ignite. Why someone wants to add fuel to the fire, especially in a vehicle full of gasoline, is beyond me. I’m told that some people just love drama but isn’t getting through daily life drama enough?
Everywhere we have images flashed before us that shows us the way to deal with conflict, with people who don’t think like we do, is with violence--to hit, maim or kill the offender. When your kid talks back or doesn’t do the dishes, you smack him one. And you keep smacking him because, by God, that’s what your parents did and look how well you turned out. When your neighbor builds a fence you hate, instead of negotiating, you sneak over in the dead of night and demolish it. When a country won’t let you steal its natural resources and its port situated for prime trade, you start a war there under false pretenses.
It’s not hard to see then why some people respond to the anger on bumper stickers—road rage of the printed sort--with anger.
We don’t always get our own way. People don’t act or believe the way we want them to. We need to vent in a way that leads to right action. We need to learn conflict resolution. We need to put on our big boy and girl panties and learn how to deal with anger in a way that’s positive and healthy, a way that doesn’t damage a child's spirit, a way that doesn't lead to more conflict or death. Just a warning: Bumper stickers and car window signs may not be that way.