Thursday, May 7, 2009

Today I found myself thinking about labels...  I can't really put my finger on what started this train of thought, but you lucky people get to listen into it! (or read, for those more literally minded...) lol

As a people we are obsessed with labels.  Perhaps it is the organizational application that is the draw... There is something to be said for "Everything having a place, and everything in it's place."  Or maybe it's the feeling that we will understand someone better if we have them neatly labeled and categorized.

As individuals, I believe there is a distinct dichotomy in how we feel about them.  On one side, our individuality and uniqueness is important to us making labels the "enemy" to be argued and denied.  On the other side, unlike magnets where opposites attract, as social creatures we are drawn to people with whom we have a connection. Or we look for something in common from which a connection can be made.  In this case labels help us to quickly choose those people with whom to spend time.

I think where most people find the fear of labels is in that first point of individuals.  With so many people around us, there is a deep seeded need to be different, to feel unique.  The thought that our uniqueness can be stolen from us by one little word is terrifying.  Goth, emo, straight, gay, lesbian, white, black, blonde, cute, and the list goes on... these labels are attempts to categorize... but I think that it isn't the label itself that holds the fear... It's when we attach the word 'only'.

"Oh him? He's only a goth...."
"What do you expect, she's only a blonde"

The fear is that that word 'only' suddenly makes it seem as if whatever you are... some choice you have made, or something you can't change (genes...)... is not good enough.  There is a demoralizing tone to someone saying "only".  The feeling is of being flick off a sleeve like lint.  Not worthy of consideration, of being given the chance to show your fully rounded personality.  A personality that is made up of many things, many facets.  We are not just one thing, we are complicated and always growing and learning and becoming 'more' than what we were...

Which is why I don't understand the phrase, "Only Human."  The idea is to say that humans are basically flawed, and therefore it is no surprise if something goes wrong.  But isn't that just as bad as saying that people who are blonde are not intelligent?  Now I do understand that as a race we are indeed not perfect.  Mistakes are made.  But is this because as Humans we are basically and irreversibly unable to be better? I believe that we are learning, and that as a race, as a world, we are still needing to grow up a little.  God made us in His image.  We aren't perfect, but not because we don't have the ability to be so... It's because we are still learning.  Just as we give second chances to children who make mistakes, so must we do with our whole race.  Understand that we are still learning to follow Christ and have to work at it everyday.  Understand that while we may not be perfect, Human means: hope, possibilities, striving for excellence, learning, bettering ourselves and becoming 'more'.

I'm sure you are familiar with the expression; "Labels are for tin cans, not for people."  I think labels become a bad thing when they are used to limit a person.  I think labels are bad when they are used to demoralize or degrade someone.  I think labels are bad when they are used to make stereotypical assumptions about an individual or group...
But I will admit to being excited about labels with positive connotations... Here are the ones that are most important to me:  Wife, Daughter, Sister, Christ follower, Seeker.

I am more than any single one of those, and still more than all of them together...  As I am sure anyone can say.  But what is most important is to remember that I am a loved, cherished, unique child of God.  And so I sign off with two things...

1. Please, if any of this makes sense, doesn't make sense, or you have anything to add... do!

2. This is a snippet of the chorus of a song by David Crowder Band... check it out
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

God bless and goodnight!

1 comment:

Christian Thibodeau said...

This was one of the "Quote of the Day" on my home page today. I thought it was very fitting with your subject.

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.
- Richard Feynman