Sunday, December 24, 2023

Bumper Stickers

 It’s the local gift that keeps on giving.

Two recent posts on TwitterX:

I just popped on this bird app to warn y'all that some folks riding around #HoCoMD with "Choose Civility" bumper stickers have chosen violence instead today.

There is no bumper sticker I hate more than that Howard County ‘Choose Civility’ one.

The Choose Civility initiative began in 2006. If you moved here after that time you might not know about it.

Choose Civility is a community-wide initiative, led by Howard County Library System, to position Howard County as a model of civility. The project intends to enhance respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance through an initiative with partners comprising government, nonprofits, and businesses. - - Urban Libraries Council

Though the initiative itself is no longer an active part of community life, the bumper stickers remain. They were quite popular at the time. 

They’ve also been a popular target of folks who didn’t think much of Choose Civility in the first place. If your car sports a Choose Civility magnet, it’s an invitation for scrutiny. Locals insist that the most selfish and reckless drivers are the ones with the easily-recognizable green and white words on the bumper. To my knowledge there is no scientific study that bears this out. All evidence is purely anecdotal.

While the Choose Civility initiative was not about safe driving, the almost ubiquitous car magnets made it all too easy to turn the conversation away from respect, empathy, consideration and tolerance to “those entitled jerks with the green stickers.” After all this time they are seen as an invitation to judge the driver on their driving.

Last year our car insurance company offered us the possibility of a variety of discounts if we allowed them to place a device in our car which would sense and calculate how safe our driving is. It’s called Drive Safe & Save. While I think of myself as a safe driver, I have to admit that there have been several times over the last year when I may have crept over the speed limit a bit and remembered that little device keeping track of my driving. 

Perhaps that’s a part of the deal. Knowing someone else will be viewing your driving record and that discounts are dependent on it serves as a sort of an external conscience. It could possibly change or shape your driving behavior in a positive way.

I’d like to suggest that perhaps those of us who are still proudly driving cars with the Choose Civility magnets think of them as an extra incentive to drive safely and with kindness. Yes, we should all be doing that anyway. But you need to know that the eyes of all are upon you, friends. Don’t give Choose Civility a bad name. 

Or take the dang magnet off and travel under the radar. It’s your choice. I took mine off years ago when I realized it made me the target of criticism. That was way too much stress for me. 

The most recent initiative from the Howard County Library System is Brave Voices, Brave Choices. I don’t think that having one of those bumper magnets will invite criticism of your of road habits but it might cause people to hide in the bushes to see what you look like.

I would definitely put one of those on my bumper but my bumper doesn’t attract magnets. Sigh.

Do you have a Choose Civility car magnet? 

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