Of course, to speak without fully considering the implications of what is said is a part of the human condition. One of my favorite phrase-types in this genre is “God Bless ____”, where the blank can be “America”, “Our Troops”, or just about anything. I’m sure the primary sentiment is one of support for the putative object of blessing, but it doesn’t take much reflection to realize there is more to it than that. “God Bless America” is really the first half of a full thought, with the unstated second half being “but not other countries”. I’ve never heard anyone say “God bless the world”, and I’m not sure what the point of a blessing would be if not to confer some benefit not available to the unblessed. Personally, I don’t want God to bless Americans to the exclusion of non-Americans, but I suppose there are many people in my country who do.
“God Bless Our Troops” is even more problematic, since its purpose is undoubtedly to ask God to take sides in a current or future armed conflict. A God that was willing to take our side in most of the wars that America has fought (thus ignoring the equally fervent prayers of the other side) is too petty for my liking.
Which brings me to a recent encounter with bumper sticker philosophy. The other day, driving the roads of Austin, Texas, I saw the following bumper sticker, which takes this archetype to a new level:
God Bless Our Troops, Especially Our Snipers
Apparently, not only do our military personnel deserve blessings to the exclusion of other country’s militaries, but within our own armed forces we should expect those trained to be snipers to get extra blessings. And what blessing should a sniper receive? To become a better shot?
I’m not sure that this bumper sticker’s owner has fully thought through all of the implications of the slogan on display. My fear is that he has.