Editor’s note: I’m taking a short break from the Fixing America series to write a few short ideas that have been gnawing at me in recent days… then back to the series…. MM
I drive a nondescript little gray hybrid (Prius) that tools around the countryside treading lightly on the Earth… kind of like Mahatma Gandhi, that diminutive giant of peace and tolerance.
Several years ago, when the Prius had had one too many close encounters of the bumper kind, I found myself at the desk of one of Colorado’s motor vehicle departments, browsing through license plate designs.
The one that instantly jumped out at me had a beautiful columbine (the state flower) overlaid on the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, and a beautiful message, “Respect Life,” and I ordered that plate without hesitation.
I wondered why ALL Colorado cars weren’t sporting that beautiful plate, and I got my answer a few months later, when a Christian fundamentalist asked me why I, a liberal, unreligious spiritual guy, sported a neo-Christian license plate on my car.
I was taken aback to learn that the Respect Life message didn’t mean to respect bees and trees and seas and forests and mountain ranges and all of the other wonderful variations of life on Earth, as I’d assumed. It referred to the right-wing, fundamentalist Christian message of respecting human fetuses by outlawing abortions.
Arg. Ensnared once again by neocon doublespeak (… right to life, compassionate conservatism, death panels, family values, traditional values, class warfare, jobs-killing, creation science… arg….).
For several years I’ve thought about replacing the appealing-but-deceptive license plate with a more benign, less attractive one, or slapping on a bumper sticker that says, “I respect ALL life, not just embryos.”
But so far I’ve just let it ride there on my bumper… even if it gives other drivers a false impression of my religion and politics. I sometimes rationalize that I still drive with a degree of un-Gandhi-like impatience when obstructed by slow, indecisive drivers. Maybe if I let ‘em think the impetuous dude passing them by is a neo-Christian, some sort of karmic balance will be preserved.
For now my car, like my politics, keeps mostly to the left, despite its right-wing license plates.
There’s a famous quote attributed, rightly or wrongly, to Gandhi:
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Whether or not that statement was ever really made by Gandhi, it sums up what many of us today feel about modern Christianity, which (at least here in the States) has become associated with false fronts (like the Respect Life license plates), wealth, intolerance, and retribution… to the point that Jesus today would almost certainly distance himself from many aspects of the religion that’s evolved in his name.
Advocating intolerance of other religions, advocating the use of guns… for God’s sake?… I don’t think so!
C’mon, shootabuddha Christians. Wake up!