Here in North America, where much of our social discourse has been reduced to sound bytes and commercial slogans, it seems that s/he who wins the bumper sticker battle wins the war — or at least skews the beliefs and morale of the troops.
So it was interesting to hear a very passionate promoter of the vegetarian diet at the seminar the other day also promote bumper stickers.
"Bumper stickers are the way to ensure that our message is read by the people we will never have a chance to speak to," he said. "If it's on the back of our car, then other drivers will see it even if they don't want to see it."
Later, he lamented that most people — indeed, most vegetarians and vegans — still don't know that the livestock industry is the biggest culprit in our greenhouse gas emissions. They just haven't heard yet that diet has a huge impact on global warming.
I then found a blog post by LogicalOne about bumper stickers and what they say about certain, um, parties (this is obviously an American blog):
"A few weeks ago I heard a TV commentator advise that Democrats needed to learn from Republicans how to speak in 'bumper stickers.' This is the common wisdom that by labeling an issue, you control it.
Drill, Baby, Drill!
No New Taxes!
Life Begins At Conception!
Of course, this is a lot easier for Republicans. They think and communicate via bumper stickers. 'Nuance' is an epithet that Republicans use to denigrate Democrats. Institutes of higher education are always 'bastions of liberalism.' The mainstream media always has a 'liberal bias' (as compared to?). Climate change is a fraud. President Obama isn't a citizen. Evolution is just a theory. Medicare is not a government run health plan. Do you see a pattern here?
... Bumper stickers may be a simple way to summarize your position, but they don't form the basis for a discussion and they do nothing to convince anyone that you know what you are talking about."
That's a compelling critique of bumper sticker politics. But what if they actually do work? Maybe we should be using them a lot more. Remember when I talked about climate change memes, and mentioned Greenpeace's 6-words-or-less slogan contest? I'm thinking maybe that was all very wise. Maybe we really do have only a few seconds at an intersection while waiting for the stoplight to turn green (ooh, green!) to help people understand the global climate change emergency.
Maybe we really have been turned into a society of mindless boobs driving about with cars as prosthetic legs believing only what we see and seeing only what is six words or less. Maybe our society has ramped up life to be so fast that people don't have time to think for themselves anymore, so they just grab the coolest slogan that fits their worldview.
Well, I'm going to try this one out somehow:
Think food is cool? That's right. We can't live without it. Know where food comes from? Yup, farms and gardens that rely on good soil, lots of water and plenty of sunshine (it's called "a stable climate"). Know what's gonna happen if we continue heating the globe and melting the summer sea ice in the Arctic by burning every fossil fuel in sight? Right again! You'll be able to kiss that food goodbye. Northern hemisphere agriculture without the cooling effect of the Arctic summer sea ice will give new meaning to "Would you like fries with that?"
Sheesh, I might have to get a bigger car just to fit my new bumper sticker on it. In the meantime, check out http://www.pavf.org to get your own, much shorter, bumper stickers. People Against Violence for Food is promoting a vegetarian diet to fight global warming and climate change. Neat place to visit and learn, if you're into reading more than just bumper stickers.
p.s. An example of a too-nice bumper stickery message,
from the Humane Society of the United States, which advocates a different 3Rs
(which could make a nice bumper sticker):
REDUCE our animal consumption.
REFINE our diet by switching to higher welfare animal products (e.g., cage-free).
REPLACE animal products with readily available vegetarian options.