I am a bad gunnie. I admit it… lived in Ohio all these years and yesterday was the first time to Camp Perry. We had a blast, and will definitely be back.
On the trip out, I saw one of those things that sends the wheels spinning.
We were driving west through the farms and fields of Erie and Ottawa Counties, when a car passed us – not surprising, I drive by setting the cruise control at the speed limit and staying in the right hand lane. On the back was a sticker with the word “CO-EXIST” formed out of letters shaped from the symbols of the world’s religions.
My first reaction was irritation, but I stopped to think about why it was irritating – and a few things came to mind:
First of course was the incredible shallowness of it. Humans have been struggling with the existence of evil for as long as we have been on the planet. Plato, Augustine, and Hannah Ardent all confronted it. Their answers differed on the source of evil – conflict among the gods mirrored on earth, or original sin, but they all agree people are often vicious animals, and that will never change. I don’t think they are sitting in philosopher heaven slapping their foreheads and saying, “Coexist, why didn’t we think of that!”
Next, the sheer, stumbling, childishness it shows– there are places in the world where simply having that bumper sticker on your car is cause to be dragged down the street by your heels and stoned to death – legally. Those are the people who need to hear your message, not me, but I don’t see that you have any plan for getting the message to them.
Finally, the arrogant presumption of it. Friend, you’re preaching to the choir; you live in a place where coexistence is a way of life. In fact it’s enshrined in our founding documents. But here’s the ugly little secret… do you know how we got to this place? We got here by killing the ones who didn’t want to coexist with us. The freedom you enjoy to drive on down the highway with your opinion displayed on your bumper was paid for in blood – the blood of soldiers who surely would have rather been anywhere else than Yorktown, Fredericksburg, or Baghdad, but also the blood of innocents in places like Dresden, and Hiroshima – where children who died screaming as fire rained down from the sky.
There is nothing you can do to alter the fact that your liberty is a bloodstained thing. And there is nothing you can do to alter the fact keeping it will require more blood be spilled.
What you can do is live in such a way as to redeem that blood. Think long and deep about your life and freedom, learn what it really costs, and realize though that may be high, the cost of regaining it once lost would be astronomical.
Finally accept that the freedom you pass on to your children, though it won’t be pure, can be less bloody, but a bumper sticker slogan won’t help.