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My motivation for the “coexist” bumper sticker…
The motivation for my political “coexist” bumper sticker comes from a long held desire for peace at every level of the social spectrum, and I believe that global peace starts with inner peace. Being a hippie-child at heart, I love peace, nature, animals, children, exploring new places, discovering new cultures and people in general. I’m an optimist who sees beauty all around. As an artist, I have always hoped to use my talents in a way that is pleasing to God. Specifically, I hope to bring healing, peace and love to the world with my art. To that end, my life goal is to create Playariums and happy public art, and any money I make with my artistic designs will go towards helping to achieve this goal.
When it comes to politics, I am a swing voter who falls very much in the middle of the political spectrum. While peace is always “top of mind” when I am casting my ballot, over the years I have voted for Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans in local and national elections. I have very close friends on both sides of the political divide and they are all thoughtful, intelligent, kind, caring, and well-informed. In general, I find that we all care about the same problems; we just have nuanced opinions that lead us to different conclusions about how to implement the proper solutions.
In case you are curious, this effort is 100% organic and has nothing to do with any political campaign or any other organization. This is simply my artistic vision that God put on my heart. When I pitched the idea to some partisan friends, they responded that they didn’t think it would go over because they felt hesitant to “extend the olive branch”. This response demonstrated to me that the message was truly positioned “in the middle”, since it ruffled feathers on both sides. And I’m okay with ruffling a few feathers because growth can’t happen without challenging the current paradigm.
I grew up in a small agricultural town in south-central Texas where every position on the political spectrum was well represented. Nevertheless, when I was little, my parents and neighbors held elections parties where friends of all political persuasions could coexist under one roof and enjoy themselves in the same manner as friends attending a Super Bowl Party with fans rooting for both teams. And I believe that kind of political tolerance was not unique to our small town but was representative of America in general during that era... But you don’t have to be a daily news follower to pick up on the fact that the political climate in our great country has taken a serious turn for the worst in the past several years.
Today, people are much more tribal about politics. It has gotten to the point where many people feel openly hostile towards individuals in the “opposite tribe” and assume that they are terrible people with negative intentions. Unfortunately, this has led to such close-minded thinking that many people are completely unwilling to have open dialogue with anyone having a difference of opinion, and they end up alienating themselves. Such isolation leads to further division and increased political tension. The latest polls show that 50% of Americans identify as “independent” voters, with no strong loyalties to either of the two main parties. Given the current political climate, these independents might find it hard to connect to individuals on extreme ends of the spectrum who feel only their opinions are important or “morally right”, and they may feel frustration over the fact that true progress (that everyone can benefit from) takes a back seat to dogmatic fighting. And while I believe my message will resonate primarily with those individuals who are not part of the partisan feud, I hope that it will also connect with some of those who, despite being deeply entrenched and passionate about their views, are ready to find a new path forward in order to bring healing to our nation.
It should be self-evident that we will never win the hearts and minds of those whom we wish to persuade by being hostile. Clearly, those of us hoping for peace should not approach people with a difference of opinion from a position of frustration and anger, but rather from a position of love and patience. As it has been said, “The journey of 1000 miles starts with one step”… So to proceed on the journey towards a beautiful future, let’s lead by example and let every single step come from a place of love and understanding. Because I’m an optimist, I am aiming to recruit other optimists to join me on this mission of peace. Because this movement is not about me; I am but a single raindrop. But if enough like-minded raindrops come together, we can become a powerful ocean of positivity. So if you also love peace and my message resonates with you, let’s begin the journey forward together by looking for ways to find common ground with others and working with them to build on our common desires to achieve the beautiful future that we all hope for and dream about!
“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
As I was dreaming up this bumper sticker I decided to make a few stylistic choices for symbolism’s sake. First, one might notice that each political party’s mascots are facing different directions than their typical orientations. While, I wanted the donkey on the left, and the elephant on the right (like the political parties they represent), I felt it was important to have the animals facing different directions than typical in order to symbolize a new direction going forwards that is positive and collaborative… Never in my lifetime did I think I would hear rumblings of a new civil war. But it’s no accident. It happened when the ability to have a civil dialogue went away. Today, each person with a strong affiliation to a political party is suspicious of the intentions of people from the opposing party. No longer are we Americans first who are simply rooting for different teams.
Secondly, in the representation of the federal eagle, the eagle faces a different direction than is typical. This is a reference to the federal eagle that is painted on the ceiling in the first house of Congress in Philadelphia (where George Washington was chosen to be president). That eagle is facing to the right (towards the olive branches), as a symbol of peace. So I specifically chose this symbol, because I believe our nation needs to go back to our roots, where a young and idealistic people chose to unify around the common bonds of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My sincere hope is that we may also return to the youthful optimism and can-do spirit that was so abundant in our young nation. Like our great eagle mascot models for us, let us also turn towards the olive branches of peace.
Lastly, the colored border that brackets the image has the colors on their opposite sides of their political associations. This is a gesture of faith in my belief that we can all unite together. While we might have differences of opinion, let’s choose to see the best in one another and start each conversation with the assumption that our fellow citizens also have good intentions. May our combined futures be blessed with peace and prosperity! 🙏