Monday, July 28, 2008


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.


Jay G said...

A-freakin'-men, brother Mike.

Every freakin' time I see one of those bumper stickers I'm tempted to ask the person sporting it if they had any idea what would happen if they happened to espouse that viewpoint in certain areas.

Mike W. said...

The sad thing Mike, is that if you were to try to explain this to the driver of said car he/she'd most likely label you an unenlightened, warmongering redneck.

Such people have their heads stuck so deep in the sand they can never be dug out.

War, and the ever-present threat of force, IS peace. "Peaceful Co-existence" is an idealistic fairytale that only the ignorant believe IMO. History and human nature continually prove their idealism wrong.

Lydia said...

hmm, I have that bumper sticker. I don't consider myself unenlightened, nor am I choking on sand. I have always listened to other's point of view, even if I disagree with it. And don't for a second think that I am unaware of war and the purpose it serves. However, seeing what war did to my father, pardon me if I have "idealistic fairytale" thoughts and hope that othesr won't have to go through what my father endured.

Lissa said...

From the always-awesome Bill Whittle: "I don't mind preaching so much as preaching to the choir. When I see Coexist bumper stickers in Islamabad and Cairo and especially Riyadh to the degree I see them in Venice, California, I will be a happy man... Until then I think we should coexist and carry a big stick." (long, so search for "coexist")

doubletrouble said...

Very well said, Mike.

A friend's daughter has one of those on her car, & I tried to point out essentially the same logic to help her see the light, in what I thought was a rational, even-tempered presentation.

Unfortunately, I didn't do as good a job as you did here, & now I'm a RACIST BIGOT.

Oh well...

TOTWTYTR said...

Mike, it's like you reached into my mind and plucked out what I've been thinking about but have been unable to turn into a coherent post.

Mike W, you say "unenlightened, warmongering redneck", like it's a bad thing.

Lydia, you prove Mike's point, thank you.

I'll be linking to this post and will add you to my blog roll.

Thanks for writing this.