Monday, September 18, 2006
I was recently following a car that had this bumper sticker attached to it's hindquarters.
Of course, I can appreciate the humor. I chuckled at it. I even cracked up a bit when I went searching for the image on the internet.
But really, why would anyone want to put this on their car? Humor aside, what does this really communicate? Obviously, it means the driver of the car considers himself intellectually superior to whomever is unfortunate enough to be following him (or her). Strangely enough, it's precisely that attitude that lies behind road rage:
Everyone on the road is a blithering idiot. Except me.
We joke about it and poke fun at it, but no matter how dangerously or humorously the feeling is expressed, in every form it is the exact same feeling expressed to varying degrees.
I'm not really meaning to blog about road rage. What the bumper sticker really made me think about was how we tend to think of other people largely (if not purely) in terms of how they affect us and our lives. I know I do this. People can have a profound impact on how I feel by a word, gesture, or action and the impact it has on me is purely the result of how these things strike my current mood.
It's often easy to forget that the people with whom I interact on a daily basis, whether I know them or not, have lives all their own. They have their own issues and concerns. And just as I rarely bother to think about their individual lives in my split-second appraisals of their character and intellect, it should go without saying that they rarely bother to think about me in the same way.
Thus, when someone puts a bumper sticker on their car's butt that asks me, "Did you eat an extra bowl of STUPID this morning?" they're publicly professing that I have a vastly inferior intellect. Naturally, my reaction is one of, "Who does this idiot think he's talking to???" I mean, anyone who puts something like that on their car obviously can't be very intelligent, right? If they think I'm that dumb, they have to obviously be dumber. Or dumberer...
Negative criticism polarizes people. It draws battle lines, forces people to take sides, and defines right and wrong based on a label, not on an argument. Criticism evokes emotional, not intellectual, debates. If you don't believe me, try reading a few blogs on politics. For as many that express genuine concern (or admiration) for the latest political events in government, there are those who laud and lambast our president for his decisions and policies purely because he is a Republican. Such people have no regard for who he is or what he really believes as a person. It's simply a matter of how he has personally pleased or offended them, as if their happiness were all that mattered. There was a time in this country when everyone respected the president, no matter their level of agreement with his decisions and policies. They did this simply because he was the PRESIDENT and they shared a common respect for the office and it's great responsibilities. In times past, conservatives and liberals alike understood that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
I admit, I argue my point from a conservative bias. To be fair, I've seen a good number of critical attacks from the conservative side, as well. Bill Clinton suffered a great deal of character asassination from the conservative camp after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I even recall one particular attack levied by a Christian against Billy Graham because Rev. Graham once described Bill Clinton as a personal friend...
Ultimately, I suppose it doesn't really matter, because conservatives are right and liberals are wrong, anyway.
And if you disagree with me, you obviously had two extra bowls of stupid this morning.