November 2, 2005
Your bumper sticker says a lot about
What are people saying about their values when they
place gross bumper stickers on their automobiles?
Everything we do communicates! Intentionally advertising
who one is or what one stands for on a crude or callous
bumper sticker can be short-sighted, naïve, even
counter-productive. Case in point, the message on the
back of a large sports utility vehicle: "Mom's Taxi:
Get in. Sit Down. Shut Up. Hold On." By itself,
this message suggests no conflict. "Mom's Taxi" operates
on her terms, so with no pun intended, it is Mom's way
or the highway! However, just to the left of Mom's license
plate was a large chrome symbol, the outline of a fish,
announcing that the owner-driver was a "public" proponent
The driver-owner of this vehicle must not have seen
inconsistency between the phrase "shut up" and
spiritual values that encourage thoughtfulness, encouragement,
compassion and graciousness. Even what appears to be
light-hearted humor communicates, sometimes more than
might have been intended. After all, do spiritually grounded
people tell others to shut up? So, how effectively is
this "mom" exhibiting congruence between what
she says about her personal spiritual values and what
she does when driving her vehicle? Is this cute or sad?
Beyond bumper stickers, think about the images and
messages we present to the world. How we dress, speak,
stand, sit and walk - each communicates our openness,
confidence and apparent competence. Humans are a living
and breathing bulletin board, announcing who they are
and how they operate to anyone who sees, smells, touches
or hears them. Words used, gossip repeated, jokes told,
slurs uttered and certainly actions taken are windows
into individual human souls.
Growing up in our family meant that we heard, repeatedly,
certain behavior-influencing themes.
Though they were longer than bumper stickers, when
their wisdom didn't stick, we risked getting a bump.
- You will be known by your associates, so pick top
- Smile, because you wouldn't want your face to freeze
in a frown.
- Say nothing if you cannot say something good.
- Work harder; when you can't work smarter.
- Arrive early so others won't have to wait for you.
- Tell the truth, because it is the right thing to
do and is easier to remember than a lie.
- Never trust those who expect you to compromise your
Congruence between what we say and what we do is important
because it reflects our integrity.
Living up to integrity-centered behavior standards is hard
work. What bumper sticker is worthy of your reputation?
Remove those that fall short.