I Can Suggest Where to Stick Your Labels
Posted by Trina Bartlett
I didn’t give much credence to his advice for three reasons. First, I found him really annoying. That in and of itself really shouldn’t reflect on the validity of his advice – – but it did reflect on my opinion of him and everything he said. Secondly, he was talking in sound bites, and I’ve come to believe sound bites are specifically designed to prevent people from having to think. It allows them to repeat something they’ve heard as an absolute truth without knowing all the facts or putting it into context.
And the third reason?
His simple solution was aimed at changing the behavior of young people without addressing the bigger issue: the adults – – the people who are supposed to be the role models – – who are actually the worst perpetrators. We just don’t call it bullying.
Sometimes we call it politics. Sometimes we call it religion. And sometimes we call it patriotism.
But no matter what we call it, we are simply using acceptable terms to hide the fact that we are practicing the same behaviors as bullies: using labels to belittle those who threaten our beliefs and/or our lifestyle while using other labels to build ourselves up.
I know. I’ve been there. On both sides of that label making frenzy.
I’ve sometimes deemed people who consider themselves conservatives as being self-centered and dogmatic individuals who care more about their own bank accounts than they do about the welfare of others, especially those who are different or less fortunate. I’ve characterized them as people who frame every issue within the lens of their own life circumstances, struggles and successes rather than considering a broad range of factors.
That’s not always accurate or fair. But even though I know a lot of very intelligent, kind-hearted and well-intentioned conservatives, those labels are still there, niggling at the back of my mind and sometimes escaping my lips.
But then, I got labeled. I was told that liberals don’t believe in personal responsibility or living within their means and we don’t like rich people just because they are rich.
For me, nothing can be further from the truth.
But when it comes to labels, the truth doesn’t seem to matter all that much. What matters is they are having a very negative impact on our lives.
For those who want to control our votes, labels make a great tool for dividing us, swaying public opinion and preventing people from digging deeper into the real issues. When we are busy pointing fingers or ridiculing others as being wrong or misguided based on their label, we aren’t engaging in genuine discussions or discovering areas of mutual agreement and understanding. We are simply falling into a trap that’s been set out for us.
Lately, I’ve been trying to avoid that trap for very personal reasons.
I can’t tell my children that name calling and bullying are wrong if I’m not setting a good example. That doesn’t t mean I can’t still be opinionated or call out actions and behaviors that are wrong or against my beliefs. But that’s very different from labeling a person or a group of people with broad generalizations.
It’s not easy, but it just may be worth the effort. If nothing else, I feel like it’s helping me become a more patient person.
And that’s a label I’m willing to stick with.