Don’t Label Me

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Not long ago in human history, there lived a group of people who lived fairly affluent lives. There were slaves and free, poor and wealthy, sick and well, all in the same community. Yet they did not commingle.

Slaves held their lower place of servitude and were treated as less than human. The wealthy held great riches and ate fine foods. Jewelry bedecked the necks and wrists of the elite. The poor sometimes were chained when their shift to serve was ended each day.

The tragedy

One day, a great tragedy happened. It was not entirely unexpected, but the people who lived in this area never thought that anything would happen – even though the signs were all around them.

The great mountain under which shadow they all lived, that had begun to rumble days before, and blew its top.And when that fateful day came, everyone, free and slave, were buried alive under mountains of ash. When archeologist discovered that the hollowed out sections under the harden ash were actually people, dogs, formerly living creatures, they began to uncover the extent of the tragedy.

Beneath the jaws of Mount Vesuvius, those residents of Pompeii all perished. And the only way to tell the rich from the poor was defined by the remaining jewelry or chains that still remained on their bodies, if any bodies were found.

Labeling everyone

Today, we do the same thing. It seems to be a part of our DNA. We put labels on everything. There is a need to sort by the type of food groups, cars, jobs we like. Who we think we are is defined by what we do, which religion or political party we belong to, and which fearless leader we are behind. We put into genres the music we listen to, the foods we eat, the wines we drink. And we group together vacation locations, our friends, our enemies, even the news broadcasts we listen to.

And we put every person we encounter inside one of those labels. Just like those who lived in Pompeii.

In Rome, Nero blamed Christians for the fires that destroyed Rome. These people, falsely accused, were rounded up, used as living torches to light the way to his gardens, fed to the lions for sport, and turned upon because of a narrative that was falsely spewed forth from the mouth of one who hated them.

More recently, in other countries, such as Rowanda, ethic groups were “cleansed”, or purged, from society because of the outrage stirred up by those who did not like them. Bodies filled the rivers of these unfortunate people.

In oppressive regimes, to disagree with the publically declared narrative de jours can land a person in jail, concentration camps, or killed.

What if we never labeled anyone?

But have we ever stopped to consider what our world would look like if we stopped putting each other in neatly defined boxes? What would it look like if we just stopped labeling others…and ourselves?

When you look at videos of people living in other countries, where people enjoy street foods, open air markets, women pounding clothes on rocks, men hunting for their next meal, rarely is a word spoken that groups, defines, or categorizes anyone. Debates are often relished as a part of the more latin cultures, often taking place in public cafes and chess games, bocci ball matches and at family dinners, even in open air markets when people even disagree how to cook certain types of foods.

People don’t take offense. They don’t “cancel” someone or avoid contact with them because they hold differing views. They embrace them. And they invite them to do more debates, heated arguments, and discussions the next day. Because that is how a healthy society works. They embrace the differences of each person, and exchange freely ideas, unafraid of expressing differing opinions.


But here, in the United States, we have become a culture of the intolerant. Or perhaps a “culture of selective tolerance” is more accurate. We segregate people based on whether or not someone believes what was said on the evening news. And sometimes, because the media itself has defined people based on a selected box, it becomes a part of our convictions as well. To disagree has become tantamount to heresy.

WWe label everyone: by race, by ethnicity, by political party, by religion, gender, by viewpoints…and those with whom we disagree, we put in a box in our mind and send our relationship with them packing.

Passive aggressiveness gives us the right to “cancel” them because we don’t want to argue. And we “cancel” them because we disagree with them.

If we don’t have a good argument for our opinions, we “cancel” them anddon’t want to be bothered with learning how to disagree respectfully.

We “cancel” others because they might make us think about the beliefs that we actually hold in our heads.

And we “cancel” them because they make us uncomfortable and outside what everyone around us now believes.

Even within our own families.

The fallout

Our society is littered with the fallout. People are hurting, blindsided, hated, despised, ill treated, neglected, tossed out of restaurants and homes, refused basic necessities such as buying food from grocery stores, all because they have been labeled by someone. We blame others to make ourselves feel the social superior.

We will never recognize the needs of anyone else until we recognize that the person across the aisle from us is, underneath it all, a human being…

Destroying the reputations of those we don’t understand, even though they are superior to us intellectually, has become the norm. We don’t even consider where those thoughts, opinions, beliefs came from, or the consequences of our actions or thoughts – or where those thought even came from – what fed that idea in the first place.

The ground of opinions shifts daily. And we continually to go blindly forward thinking ourselves to be morally superior because we can spew back out someone else’s position, which may or may not even have a shred of reason to back it.

But that needs to change…

Aristotle argued in De Animus how, not just that, man is different from animals. Like animals, we are held with our feet firmly planted to the earth.

But, unlike animals, we have possession of faculties that no other animal on the planet possesses. We have creativity. And we question the origins of ourselves and the universe. We try to define things, categorize things, develop things, improve things…and our minds.

When someone says you are just an animal, ask them the last time they saw any animal on the planet create an economic infrastructure, sent one of their own in space, or figured out a complex mathematical problem that determines how planets rotate around the sun.

We are not animals

Our minds go beyond our physical being. It makes us different than animals, and because of that, we are the only creatures that can lift our minds beyond the physical plane.

Animals don’t meditate with relaxation music one of their kind created when trying to unwind after hunting for their food – or being hunted for food. Animals don’t wonder why a berry on one tree is green and another is blue. They don’t ask what the name of that bright yellow globe in the sky is called, or what it is, for that matter. The animal simply lies down and enjoys the heat.

Animals also don’t get “offended” if someone mispronounces their names, disagrees with their choice of snacks, or calls them something they are not. They don’t even care.

Their only concerns in life is to eat, sleep, and reproduce. No scientific research showing gorillas “reading” or dogs barking their age negates this point. Except for small, insignificant examples of animals “figuring things out” (and even then, on a limited basis), animals on their own do not hold such curiosities among themselves as having any purpose toward their own survival.

We are all human

Among the human creature, we need to recognize that we are all the same. We are human beings, people, and individual. We are unique among the animal kingdom. And we are unique in the gifts, talents, and skills that we can bring to any table. We are intelligent creatures capable of loving each other in spite of our flaws, inspite of the socioeconomic position any one of us holds.

And, unlike a mere animal soul, we have the capacity to reach out to others and to love.

But not one of us is perfect. Not one of us agrees with everything anyone else believes. Not one of us doesn’t say something that will hurt or offend someone else. We need to accept that fact.

And we will never recognize the needs of anyone else until we recognize that the person across the aisle from us is, underneath it all, a human being. Imperfect though they may be, so are we.

If they are hurting, charity demands we give comfort. Charity demands that we give of what we have as we are able to those who are sick or starving. If they are in sin*, charity demands we give correction. If they won’t listen and remain steadfast in their sinfulness, then and only then, you can part ways.

But never, ever stop loving them.

When we recognize each other for what we are – creatures seeking to be accepted and loved – maybe, then, we can learn to love each other once more. As human beings. As imperfect creatures. But as someone who has something unique to contribute to society as a whole.

Boxes and seeing ourselves

If we stop putting each other in little boxes, we will stop hating each other because of our differences. We will stop being divided and stop perpetuating the divisiveness. We will recognize that we are the same.

Even if our language or nationality is different, or our skin color is different. No matter if material possessions are unequal. We will recognize that we are all the same. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated with the dignity every person deserves.

But we will never accept each other unless we accept ourselves. We need to learn to love ourselves and recognize that we matter. It’s okay to accept all our imperfections as perfect ways to keep us humble.

We need to learn to hold ourselves accountable for our actions in generating the friction between each other and make the attempt to correct the wrongs we have caused ourselves and others.

It isn’t always someone else’s fault.

The capacity to love

And finally, we need to recognize that unique gift each of us holds that no animal possesses: We have the capacity to love ourselves and love others.

Until we get to that point, we will never grow. We will never become anything but an animal, incapable of relating to our fellow creatures. And as an animal, we will be incapable of rising ourselves up our of ashes of our own making. It is up to us to thrust ourselves into a world that holds promise and brighter days ahead.

Reason will continue to be replaced by the lower animalistic nature innate within us. And passion, not reason, will rule our world. It impacts everyone we touch. To curtail the emotions, we impose upon others who are incapable of providing solace to our own unbearable pain. We will continue to drink from the empty cup of bitterness and blame.

Looking beyond ourselves

And no matter how hard it is to accept, we cannot raise ourselves up if we are our only teacher. We must reach out beyond this world to a world Plato describes as the world of perfection. It is a world outside ourselves that we can see in our mind’s eye. And it is this world against which we compare objects or actions in our world around us.

But we will never reach that external source of perfection if we keep looking within our own flawed perspectives. We must reach beyond ourselves into that world of the infinite possibilities. We need to join ourselves to that which is beyond ourselves where perfection and perfect Love resides.

It is a place where Someone or Something created each one of us as unique creations, for a reason, with a purpose, and with the capacity to share in the Infinite.

We are all from the same source

We are part of the same creation, loved by a Creator who made each one of us. Because of this, we owe it to each other to reach out across the aisle and share our humanness. Not our flawed sinfulness – our humanness. And that means we need to give of ourselves to someone else out that sharing in the Infinite; to reach outside ourselves and our selfish viewpoints and embrace others just because they are human beings.

Even those who hate us, the hardest possible thing any one of us can do. Because we, each of us, even those who destroy everything we worked hard toward, our families, our possessions, our livelihoods, our bodies, are all still equally human beings.

Every one of us is not an accident. We each have a purpose – every one of us – even those deemed “accidents” “disabled” or “inconveniences”; the newly born and yet to take their first breath outside a womb; the old with their wisdom and experiences only they can share.

We are important. Each one of us. We matter.

*Sin: 1a: an offense against religious or moral law; b: an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible. “It’s a sin to waste food”; c: an often serious shortcoming FAULT; 2a: transgression of the law of God; b: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God Miram Webster, onlineJanuary 21, 2020

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