Put signs away, along with hostility

Put signs away, along with hostility

At the time of you reading this, Lord willin’, the election will be in the history books, the commercials off the airwaves and the artificial intelligence behind the delivery of political robocalls/text messages will have been unplugged.

However, come Nov. 4, I have no delusions that a calming presence will prevail, that the politically charged will take their pitchforks, torches and vitriol and quietly return to their homes to reflect on one of the darkest presidential elections of the 13 for which I have been alive. No, I fear what most will do will be to return to the radio/television pundits, on both sides, complaining about what went wrong and why we are all doomed or what went right and why the next four years will be the best in America’s history.

As always, I will leave the historical context and ramifications of our nation’s choice for president to minds much smarter than my own. Nevertheless, I will not miss the hostility, the mindless Facebook posts of people convinced their opinions are changing the minds of their “friends,” and I will certainly not miss the yard signs, which, really, do one of two things: make you want to pull in a driveway and give the homeowner a hug because there is comfort in being around like-minded individuals or make you revert to your junior high days, stockpiling toilet paper in preparation for TP’ing a house (or two).

While I too am not immune to placing a yard sign or two in my own yard, I do wonder if anyone has ever driven by a house displaying a sign and had their political mind changed because of the family living there? Or, more likely, have you experienced disappointment that a family you previously adored moves down a notch or two on the “play-date” list because they do not share your political beliefs?

According to an NPR interview from 2012, in America, John Quincy Adams started the tradition of yard signs in the 1820s, wanting to get an edge on his political opponent. Take this tactic, used ever since, for what it is worth as Adams did not win a second term, yard signs and all.

Political historians actually believe the practice began in ancient Rome when scribbles, to help gain a political advantage, could be found on walls. Some extensive statements were used often praising public figures for their work in the community and why they should be nominated for a certain position.

I can not relate to the owner of the house on state Route 585 who has lined her/his driveway with upward of 50 political signs, and not because I may disagree with them politically, but because I cannot imagine being that obsessed with any political candidate that I would put forth that kind of effort. Clark Griswold-type Christmas light decorating? Maybe. Political signs? Nope.

What I can better relate to are the comical yard signs that put a smile on my face: “Any Competent Adult: 2020” or “Giant Meteor: 2020” or my personal favorite, “This Sign Will Totally Make You Vote Differently: 2020.”

Even more so, I appreciate the signs that tell me something worth knowing about the homeowner and those who reside there.

Seeing various school athletic or music designed signs tell me a student with the drive and interest in something worth investing lives at that house, or the “Honorary Jr. Police Officer” sign tells me an elementary student is learning about citizenship, is serving one's community and has been chosen by a teacher for being an upstanding young person.

A lot of businesses have earned a phone call from me because I drive by a house of a person I admire, displaying that business' contracting skills.

Even better, I would like to see some yard signs where folks list their favorite movies, or bands or TV shows. I think I might pull into the driveway of an owner of a yard sign that reads, “The Marine Biologist,” so we could chat classic “Seinfeld'' episodes, even if we disagree on which ones are best.

The compassionate part of me likes to think if someone had a yard sign reading, “Ailing Father,” when I drive past, I would quietly say a prayer for their father’s health and the guiding hands of the doctors and nurses tending to his care.

Of Steve Martin’s many terrific films, “L.A. Story” ranks as one of my favorites. In it, Martin finds himself a recently fired local weatherman, which allows him time to take stock of his life. In several fantastical scenes, Martin seeks spiritual and personal counsel from a sentient freeway hazard sign, pointing him in the right direction in romance and in life. “Kiss her, you fool,” the sign reads at one point, guiding his character toward true love.

Ultimately, I hope that is what we all want, in some cases guidance from signs, but even more so getting to know our neighbors/community in meaningful ways, rather than by the political divide that increasingly alienates us from one another. Come Nov. 4, regardless of who is sitting in the White House, that is what will matter most.

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