A Sign of the Times

Yard signs are big business these days. Gone are the days when a sign in someone’s yard meant their house was for sale. These days, signs are posted all over my neighborhood. They advertise pest control, irrigation, roofing, swimming pool maintenance, and tree removal. My neighbors want me to know what school they support, that Black Lives Matter, and that I should Back the Blue. Lately, these signs have revealed our political leanings. During the election campaign, supporters of President Trump posted enthusiastic displays with flags and whirligigs while Biden folks seemed more subdued, often with handmade signs.

And just when I thought the endless political season was over, we Georgians are treated to a runoff campaign for two U.S. Senate seats. The only positive note is that the four people who are campaigning seem to have combined their efforts, much like the presidential races. On the Republican side, we have the Loeffler-Perdue “ticket” and for the Democrats, I see yard signs for Warnock-Ossoff. Maybe that means fewer yard signs and fewer TV and radio commercials. This election season can’t end too soon for me. The campaign ads have become offensive and insulting—and not just for the candidates.

Human beings are tribal animals and Americans may be the most tribal of all. We fly our flags, display our school colors, and support out state and local sports teams. Actually “support” is too mild a word. Love and hate seem more appropriate when it comes to college athletics. Our neighborhood watch groups keep an eye on any outsiders who might wander into our neighborhoods. Many of us want to keep people who don’t look like us off of our streets or foreigners from coming to our country and “taking our jobs”. Even though these immigrants are taking jobs no one else wants. It is hard to find people who want to clean motel rooms or pick tomatoes. I appreciate immigrants who want to work hard and get ahead. My sentiments are shared by some folks in Louisville, Kentucky. On a recent visit there, I saw numerous yard signs that said: No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor. It was printed in three languages.

Many of the yard signs I see suggest we are a bitterly divided country. It is no longer good enough to be an American. We must declare a party allegiance. Am I a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal? I would like to be neither or perhaps both. I would like my government to rule by common sense and compromise—something that might approach the common good. I am a middle of the road kind of guy who is tired of the prevailing “my way or the highway” attitude. I could support a moderate Republican or a moderate Democrat if there were any of them in existence.

I am okay with my neighbors displaying Black Lives Matter signs. While it is true that all lives matter, we don’t need a sign to remind us that white lives matter. I grew up in the segregated south at a time when the only lives that seemed to matter were white lives. I will support the Black Lives Matter movement until ALL lives really do matter.

I don’t have any signs in my yard even though I support Georgia football and Braves baseball. If I am paying a company to service my air conditioner or to cut my trees then I think they should pay me for advertising their business with a sign in my yard. All of these yard signs are visual pollution to me. There should be limits—like one sign per yard and a one-month time limit per sign. And if you place a sign advertising your candidate or your yard sale on a street corner, you should be fined if you don’t remove it when the event is over.

On my recent visit to Kentucky, I saw yard signs that proclaimed: black lives matter, women’s rights are human rights, immigrants make America great, science is real, and kindness is everything. In many cases, all of these sentiments were on a single sign. That is a sign I might place in my yard, although I have not seen any signs that cover an important segment of our population. To my sign, I would need to add be kind to animals. Their lives matter, too.

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