Labels simplify our lives. We don’t have to open every package, box or can to know exactly what’s inside. Cheerios. WD40. Liquid detergent. Organic beet seeds. Labels are handy because they give us information necessary to determine whether the item will satisfy a need, a hunger, or a desire, or not. This saves untold time and effort.
Unfortunately, for convenience sake, simply out of bad habit, or even for lack of judgment or compassion, we put labels on people as well.
Politicians and marketers certainly take every opportunity to lump-label large groups of individuals and appeal to them based on even a single characteristic taken to define who they are.
Honestly, we are in the stranglehold of so much information bombardment from all media sources and from our electronic devices, screaming so much we should be concerned about, that it’s no wonder we often consciously or subconsciously take the de-humanizing labeling short-cut.
We don’t have to spend our valuable, scarce time being concerned with individuals tagged with labels of groups we don’t want to be associated with. We don’t have to trouble ourselves to know anything of them beyond the label. We don’t have to consider their history, individual opinions, belief systems, struggles, abilities, or that they have hearts, souls, and needs as we all do. We don’t have to consider how they may be contributing to the world or how they might help us to learn lessons we need to learn. We don’t have to be touched by them. We don’t have to see them, but only dismiss them. In the process though, we deprive those people of their humanity and ourselves of compassion, wisdom, and grace.
Is there a single political party, religion, age group, socio-economic class, education level, occupation, family status, gender, race, culture, lifestyle or interest group that defines exactly all of who you are? I think not. Old man, Old woman, Middle-ager, Hipster, African American, White, Native American, Jew, Mexican, Social elite, Upper class, lower class, Middle class, Redneck, Freak, Immigrant, Professional, Retiree, Divorcee, Widow, Widower, Christian, Muslim, Gay, Lesbian, rich Capitalist, White Male, Blue-collar worker, Right-winger, Boomer, Millennial, Dropout, Uneducated, Unemployed, Welfare recipient, Punk kid, Aging Hippie, Liberal, Conservative, Jock, Geek, Soccer mom, Suburbanite.
Labels divide. We need to DO better. We ARE better.