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Coexist : My bumper sticker of choice

As a traveler, I have been to 40 states and abroad. Thus far, I have never seen a place so highly dedicated to bumper stickers as Boise, Idaho. I admit I have an entire folder crammed full of them – mostly about peace, inequality and the Earth.

However, though I adore their bold messages, I feign to display them on my bumper.

As a traveler, I have been to 40 states and abroad. Thus far, I have never seen a place so highly dedicated to bumper stickers as Boise, Idaho. I admit I have an entire folder crammed full of them – mostly about peace, inequality and the Earth.

However, though I adore their bold messages, I feign to display them on my bumper. I agree with everything in my folder.

I also realize everyone has a different metaphorical folder, and I don’t want to piss off any war mongers or people with “rifle targets are my peace sign” stickers.

About a year ago, I noticed a bumper sticker that didn’t denote the “up yours if you don’t agree with me” attitude – it read COEXIST.

In each letter was a symbol, and all the symbols fit together in perfect equanimity. “Coexist,” I said aloud. What a beautiful thought.

Finally, a small, rectangular plea for tolerance and understanding; it was the only sticker I’ve seen that doesn’t convey rigidity, but acceptance.

The following symbols spell out coexist: the star and crescent, the peace sign, an E with the Mars and Venus signs, the star of David, the dharma wheel, a Yin and Yang and the cross.

Allow me to clarify their meaning – the star and crescent are recognized as a symbol for Islam. It was historically associated with the use of a cyclical moon calendar and the Ottoman Dynasty, coming to symbolize Islam by association.

The peace sign was designed by artist Gerald Holtom in Britain for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. It first showed up in the form of 500 lollipops in an anti-nuclear march in 1958 in London and was quickly adopted by Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement.

The “E” with Mars and Venus symbols protruding from it symbolized gender equality, with “E” representing general equality. The star of David is the primary symbol of Judaism, an ancient symbol of one of the oldest documented religions.

The “I” represents the Buddhist dharma wheel, or dharmachakra. “S” is transformed into yin and yang, the Taoist symbol of the interplay of forces in the universe, conveying a universal equilibrium.

Finally, the “T,” or Latin cross of Christianity, symbolizes Christ’s crucifixion. The original cross was the Greek cross, which looks like a plus sign, and represents the four directions of the earth, signifying the intention to spread the gospel in all directions.

Aside form the peace sign, most of the symbols represent the major religious traditions in the United States. Most are easily recognizable, though the majority that ask for clarification recognize the “I” and “S” as symbols of eastern traditions.

Interestingly, more people ask me about the meaning behind the “E” than any other.

The “E” is the most important symbol, and in dire need of attention. Religious tolerance is an amazing concept, but what about the “E?”

What about gender equality? Religious coexistence is great. However, the bigger issue is gender inequality and it’s institutionalized form embedded within some of these religious traditions.

And don’t you Christians dare point your finger at Islam before examining yourself!

Amy Bowman