I am going to use a quote from one of my favorite blogggers again. Labels on cans are indispensable. They tell up how much salt, fat, carbs are in the product. Without them grocery shopping would be nearly impossible for some of us. But labels for people, are generally a stifling thing but even then they sometimes they are necessary.
Most of us don’t like to be defined by others, but we’re still very adept at assigning labels to ourselves. I see labels as limits, as hard core definitions that you carry like an awkward badge of honor. It’s supposed to help – this knowing what you are and aren’t.
I understand Green Study‘s approach to this subject but I think it is even more than that. I know I do my share of labeling people. I sometimes call the typical GOP conservative a greedy selfish fear-centered and change averse. I don’t intend to label everyone who pulls a Republican lever at the polls by this label but there a fair number that very well describes them.
Labeling others is a quick way to put a group of people into small boxes that we can then manage. If we label those who think more about the public good than themselves communists or liberal then we can dismiss their words before they come out of their mouths. If we label all Muslims as terrorists then we can justify keeping them out of our country. Labeling others is often done with prejudice and fear.
The labels we put on others is damaging but perhaps the labels we put on ourselves is even more so. I know a number of people who just have such a low a level of self confidence that they label themselves as being unable to learn. They don’t think they are smart enough to advance themselves in life. This is probably one of the most damaging labels a person can put on themselves.
Labeling yourself is not in itself a destructive thing. I proudly wear the self-labels: Empath, passionate, progressive, pragmatist, Red Letter Christian, dreamer, creative. They help me to remember what I deem as important in life. They define who I am.
Like everything else in life labels are shades of grey, there is good and bad in them. But then again wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see what a person is made up of by a label attached to them. We could then quickly determine if their ingredients are what we desire. Maybe if we all had labels to read before we got into a relationship with someone we could eventually get the divorce rate below 50%. If our politicians came with labels maybe we could more successfully pick the right ones to do the job.