I find a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers and keep a list of them handy for illustrating and driving home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements. Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. Here are some more of my favourites:
MY WIFE YES, MY DOG MAYBE, MY GUN NEVER
Believe it or not this could be just a slight exaggeration. I can well imagine a man who would sooner give up his wife and his faithful dog than he would his precious gun. Oh how obsessed many men (and women as well) are with their guns and in the U.S. their assumed Second Amendment right to bear arms. Yes I know it’s said that “guns don’t kill, people do.” Yet I wonder how many fewer people would be killed in this country if no one owned a gun.
Mass shootings at a theatre in Colorado, a school in Connecticut and the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. have intensified the debate over gun control. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, a vehement opponent of any kind of control, has said that a bad guy with a gun can only be stopped by a good guy with a gun. But according to an article in The Daily Banter by Bob Cesca, “Guns owned by ‘good guys’ have been responsible for thousands of deaths every year, including the recent spike in children shooting other children using guns legally purchased by adults. In terms of mass shootings, more than 75 percent of all firearms used in mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were obtained legally by men whom the state considered to be ‘good guys’ at the time of purchase.”
Here are some other gun-related bumper stickers that seem to define the mentality of those who are wedded to their guns: “GOD CREATED MEN BUT WINCHESTER MADE THEM EQUAL”; “HAPPINESS IS A WARM BAZOOKA”; “NEVER MIND THE DOG, BEWARE OF OWNER”; “INSURED BY A .357 MAGNUM”; “I’LL GIVE UP MY GUN WHEN THEY PRY IT FROM MY COLD DEAD FINGERS.” Frankly it’s hard to imagine a sense of identity that has slipped to such a level, a level where personal meaning and significance are absolutely attached to guns and other weaponry, where one’s sense of well-being depends on shooting targets, shooting animals or, God forbid, shooting people. And yet, judging from the impassioned rhetoric of many gun owners, I’m inclined to believe it’s true: life without guns is inconceivable! What level of consciousness does this suggest? It has been stated that “the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” A child in an adult body armed with an instrument that can kill. What a grotesque and disturbing image. Surely it’s time to grow up!
But I don’t really want to become involved in the gun control debate; in one sense it doesn’t really matter. In their present state human beings will find ways to kill each other whether they have guns or not. For they live in an unreal world created by the human mind armed with its concepts of good and evil. They are identified with externals—with smart phones, SUVs, shopping malls and semiautomatics—rather than with the internal truth of themselves. Underlying it all is a culture of fear, fear that what I have—my home, my family, my country, my beliefs, my life—might be taken from me and so I have to defend myself and my possessions, with guns if necessary. Only when the culture of fear is replaced by a culture based on unconditional love will the problem of gun violence and all other forms of violence be dissolved.
MEN WHO CHANGE DIAPERS CHANGE THE WORLD
Changing a diaper is certainly not the most glamorous or even pleasant activity that one can engage in. Yet it’s something that needs to be done, and if it’s done in a right spirit and with love, a very positive influence is extended through the subconscious connections each of us has with the rest of humanity. This applies to every job, every activity, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant and no matter how unpleasant. Most of the things we do during the day are menial and part of a daily routine, not exactly calculated to induce ecstasy. But once again, depending on our attitude in handling these things, something wonderfully uplifting and life-enhancing can be brought into the world.
As the custodian of a large building my responsibilities include vacuuming, sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and washing all the coffee cups and dishes that are used during the day. You might wonder how any of these activities could possibly be thought of as spiritual. And yet the physical act of cleaning has its spiritual counterpart. As I clean something up externally something is happening internally: a cleansing and purifying process is activated in my own consciousness that in turn activates a clearing at some level of the collective consciousness. Yes this happens with any work that’s done with a positive attitude and right spirit, but when the work is menial or what some would even consider degrading, and certainly when it involves something as messy and revolting as changing a diaper, I believe the current of blessing that’s released into the body of humanity is especially strong.
Throughout the 1990s in my work as an elementary school custodian I not only did the daily cleaning work in the school but also often had to clean up some pretty ugly messes left by the children. In an article about my work, I wrote this: “With regard to any work, what is done matters far less than how it is done; what is accomplished externally is less important than the internal process of the person doing the work. Elucidating the teachings of Carlos Castaneda in Quest magazine, David Copeland describes this dual function as ‘doing one thing, anything in fact, and doing it impeccably, and yet knowing that you are actually doing something else—practicing the warrior’s path by exercising impeccable action and unbending intent.’ In other words, as I give absolute attention to my cleaning responsibilities, doing everything precisely as it should be done, pouring my very being into the handling of each detail, a refined quality of warrior substance is generated on an invisible level and something powerful forms with myself that impacts the cosmic whole.”
Did you ever imagine that simply by changing a diaper you have an opportunity to “practice the warrior’s path” and impact the cosmic whole? And in a most beautiful and transformative way if you’re doing it impeccably and as an expression of the impeccable being that you are in essence. How true it is that “men who change diapers change the world.” And oh yes, the same is true for women!
JESUS IS COMING, LOOK BUSY
My father was a painting contractor and I worked with him for many years. I recall a time when we were painting a suite of rooms on one of the upper floors of a large office building. During our mid-morning coffee break my father happened to glance out the window at the street below and saw Mr. Hills, the building manager for whom we worked, entering the building. My father, sensing he was coming up to see us, nervously warned, “Hills is coming! Hills is coming!” So we had to immediately put aside our coffee and doughnuts, grab our paintbrushes and act as if we were zealously working away.
I think something similar occurs in the minds of those who expect the return of Jesus: “Surely if the great cosmic supervisor is coming we want to be sure to impress him with our good works! Perhaps this will earn us a more exalted place in heaven. So let’s look as busy as possible doing things that Jesus would like.” This is such a childish attitude. Even if we could assume Jesus is coming again how do we know what he would like? He might well enjoy seeing human beings drinking coffee and eating doughnuts!
It’s written in the Bible that when the prophet Samuel was given the task of selecting a new king for Israel he was given this instruction: “Look not on his countenance or the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Even if Jesus should somehow reappear on this planet do you think he would be impressed by and reward outer appearances of morality or spirituality? I don’t think so. Obviously he would be concerned with the heart, the inner state of the individual.
But let’s get real here: Jesus is not coming again. Even if the being that historically appeared as Jesus should incarnate again on Earth it’s virtually inconceivable that he or she would be named Jesus. And this being would certainly not come floating down in the sky as some naively imagine but would undergo the natural processes of conception, gestation and birth. Moreover, Jesus himself said at one point, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” What this suggests to me is that in order for the Christ Spirit to manifest on Earth there must be a spiritual body of people who are centred in and expressing that Spirit. If such a receptive host were present, i.e. a womb of spiritual substance, then it could be possible for what we might call the Lord of Love, the supreme point of focus for this planet, to appear again in the flesh. This clearly puts the responsibility for divine expression squarely upon us, and merely “looking busy” will not suffice.
IT USED TO BE WINE, WOMEN & SONG; NOW IT’S BEER, OL LADY & TV
I include this one just for a good laugh, though perhaps we could think of people we know in whom the passion and vitality of youth have crumpled into a stagnant mediocrity. I’m sure it would never happen to us! Nearing my 72nd birthday I guess I’m being tested somewhat in this regard. Fortunately in the spiritual community where I live there are several others of greater age than I who are providing marvelous examples of vibrant life and passion for purpose, in a sense leaving me without excuse. Wine improves with age and in alignment with the creative process of life so can people.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at email@example.com.