Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Follow the Herd

First things first: I’m not a misanthropist.

I know that what I’m about to write is going to sound harsh and uncaring. I’m not harsh and uncaring. But I am rather tired of bracelets and ribbons.

There, I said it. I’m sick of seeing those magnetic ribbons on every car, truck and van on the road. I also support our troops. I believe in the war in Iraq. I have family who served in Iraq. I want them all to come home safely, and I deeply appreciate the work they do for our country. But I’m not going to put a magnet on my car. Why are so many people putting these things on their car? Oh sure, it’s a nice gesture. Plop down a dollar (I don’t know, but I assume the money is going to some worthy cause), and slap a magnet on the car to show your support. But somewhere it got out of hand.

I’ve been counting. At any given time on my drive to and from my office, I can see at several of these ribbon magnets on cars around me. Do this many people feel so strongly about the war and troops that they feel the need to display a magnet? Or, were they feeling left out by not having one? I somehow get the feeling that the urge to buy a magnet has more to do with fitting in than supporting the troops.

And now the magnets aren’t even about troops. Is the money for Kansas City Chiefs ribbons going to a worthy cause?

I thought it was a nice idea when Lance Armstrong started selling yellow bracelets to raise money in support of cancer survivors. But then the bracelets also got out of hand. Suddenly, they were sold out and only the very hippest of folks were wearing them. But I don’t understand why I’d have to wear a bracelet to prove that I support cancer survivors. I’ve been giving money to various charities for years and have never thought to myself “Gee, I wish I could wear a bracelet to prove how giving I am.”

Why? Why did Tom Brokaw have to wear a yellow bracelet on the air? Why did John Kerry have to wear a yellow bracelet while campaigning? The good feeling they get from simply supporting cancer survivors isn’t enough? They also need the good feeling they get from wearing a yellow piece of plastic. What kind of self esteem issues do these people have?

And, of course now there are pink bracelets, blue bracelets, green bracelets… A bracelet for every charity you can think of, and bracelets for the not so charitable. The blue one is to show support for the Kansas University Basketball team.

Me? I’ll just continue giving to my local charities. I’ll continue donating gifts for our church’s Giving Tree program. I’ll continue praying for our troops. And I’ll continue to feel good about it.

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