WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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Bumper Sticker Wisdom

The other day I passed an old truck covered in bumper stickers.  The messages ranged from offensive to political to philosophical to hilarious.  As a teenager, my very old Volvo had its own range of stickers.  My current car only has tame oval magnets supporting kids’ camps and schools.  And let’s face it, they don’t really mean a thing.  Magnets don’t demand the commitment and chutzpah of a proper sticker; they pose no liability to car paint or chrome.  In contrast, a bumper sticker’s adhesive threats indicate serious business.  We could do well to pay more attention to the truths those boldly pasted messages hold.  See examples below.

Drop the mic.  In 1970  Irina Dunn  scribbled this  phrase  on a bathroom door to challenge ideas about women’s dependence on men, but there’s another important message in this quote.  Nobody in this world can get by with “a man” or, for that matter, “a” woman.  We need the village to support and encourage us.  We need communities to mourn and celebrate with us.  We learn big things, do grand things, and become our best, most authentic selves in and through relationships.  We need lots of them.

Drop the mic.  In 1970 Irina Dunn scribbled this phrase on a bathroom door to challenge ideas about women’s dependence on men, but there’s another important message in this quote.  Nobody in this world can get by with “a man” or, for that matter, “a” woman.  We need the village to support and encourage us.  We need communities to mourn and celebrate with us.  We learn big things, do grand things, and become our best, most authentic selves in and through relationships.  We need lots of them.

Take that six-pack abs.

Take that six-pack abs.

Well I’m sure she or he is.  And if you don’t have a sticker stating such, we’ll pretend you do.  Unless there is infallible evidence to the contrary, the friends and strangers we meet every day deserve to be treated as honorable, good, and kind.  If their grades are good, too, you're just bragging.

Well I’m sure she or he is.  And if you don’t have a sticker stating such, we’ll pretend you do.  Unless there is infallible evidence to the contrary, the friends and strangers we meet every day deserve to be treated as honorable, good, and kind.  If their grades are good, too, you're just bragging.

We need double- and triple-checks of institutionalized power structures.  But we also need to question our own authority – especially when it’s directed at somebody else.  Believing we know exactly how someone else should be or live means we’re using their stuff to distract us from our own.  Look in the mirror.

We need double- and triple-checks of institutionalized power structures.  But we also need to question our own authority – especially when it’s directed at somebody else.  Believing we know exactly how someone else should be or live means we’re using their stuff to distract us from our own.  Look in the mirror.

You got that right.  We all ought to – more often and more deeply.

You got that right.  We all ought to – more often and more deeply.

Whitney Cain