Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Danger of Bumper Sticker Ideology

So I'm reading this book about a guy who dressed up in a bumper sticker suit. After he convinced his wife to let him out of the house with the goofy thing, he headed to Time Square, New York.

His goal? To open up discussion with anybody willing. He asked questions about God, the Church, and their favorite bumper sticker on his suit.

His intent? To facilitate meaningful conversation.

It's not that I think bumper stickers are wrong. Not at all.

Although they do affect the resale of your car. You want bumper stickers? Cover to your heart's content.

But what bumper sticker guy and I are saying is that the ideology of a bumper sticker cheapens communication. This mindset robs us of the art of conversation.

Bumper sticker ideology offer one way communication. I know that I don't want to be the type that only has something to proclaim or to communicate, and doesn't have the time or ability to facilitate honest conversation.

Bumper sticker ideology only offer simple answers. Life is complex. Big questions often have complex answers. I feel cheated when a complex question is answered with a cliche just short enough to fit on the back of my car. Tough questions deserve thought out explanations. Tough questions deserve to be explored.

Bumper sticker ideology devalues opposing opinions. When we use one way communication methods, we communicate a lack of care or interest in rebuttals. We communicate that we don't care about other people's opinions. Sometimes that's not what we are trying to do. Other times, if we're honest, that's exactly how we feel: you're opinion is unimportant in this conversation. It communicates that 'I am right and you are wrong.' And we show that we are unwilling to learn from other people.

I'll admit. It's harder to facilitate conversation over this one way communication.

It takes relationship (relationships can be messy).

It takes longer (credibility has to be established).

It takes more research (tough questions deserve researched answers).

In short, let me ask you this,

"Has a bumper sticker answer ever changed your mind on a tough issue? Or just supported what you believed?" 

Book written by bumper sticker guy.