How Labels Hurt Us
We label everything in our lives. We are labeled by our skin tone, our culture, our socio-economic status, who we love, what we eat, what our gender identity is, who we vote for and where or whom we pray to if we pray to anyone or anything. Everything in our lives is compartmentalized and broken down. We’re all supposed to fit nicely into little boxes. We’re Democrats or Republicans, Blacks or Whites, Christians or Atheists, Gays or Straights, Men or Women, Vegetarians or Omnivores, the list goes on and on.
What we seek to do by labeling is find common interests, but there is a dangerous side to the labels. By labeling ourselves we are ignoring the gray areas. Some may identify as liberal but have some more conservative beliefs. Instead of falling into one camp or the other, they must choose allegiance. Heaven forbid they discuss a difference of opinion or have a belief leaning the opposite way. They will be castigated from one group. The other group will not have them because their overall believes slant the other way. There is judgment on all sides.
Nothing is worse than political beliefs. Politics can split families. I see it in my own family. There is judgment, hurt feelings, disagreements. It’s becoming ugly. What happened to the United States to where beliefs can now split families, split the nation, and create a hate-filled society where having a difference of opinion makes you enemies? I don’t remember this kind of bi-partisan hatred growing up. Sure, my democratic relatives were not fond of Reagan, but I recall a time where my democratic grandfather and republican grandmother could be married for 65 years and love one another in spite of opposing political beliefs. Today, that’s grounds for a bitter divorce.
What gets me is when it affects other people. I have a hard time coming to terms with different religions especially. Believe what you want to believe so long as your beliefs do not affect other human beings. It’s one thing to make laws against those who harm others (such as murderers, praying on innocent people or rapists and thieves). It is another to make laws against consenting adults, against their families, against things that have no bearing or harm on the lives of others! I struggle daily not to lose my cool about this, and it’s something I work on controlling. I will NEVER not fight for human rights, for civil rights…FOR EQUALITY!
That being said, I have to let some things go. I was talking to a new friend today and this idea about maturity kept coming up. I’m 32 years old. I’m a lot older than my college peers. I have a life with a family, a home, bills, and adult worries and cares. Many of my peers still live with parents, have jobs, but maybe no solid foundation. No homes they own, no children to worry about, and they may just be getting involved in long-term relationships. I have a different mentality already because I have been there, done that. I have a maturity and I need to maintain that and my dignity.
I have faced oppression. I have lived a hard life. I have been knocked down only to get up again. I am a fighter. I am strong. I am intelligent. I am a hard worker. I am stubborn. I must let everything else go. I must move on from the pain, from the heartbreak. I must worry about myself. I cannot focus on what others have done to me or against me anymore. They will be the ones to ultimately face their actions later on. I have done things in my past I am not proud of and that I regret. I think of those things and the judgment I give myself is harsher than any judgment I can be given by others. The past and our actions in it will come back to haunt us, when we are older and wiser.
That being said, I can have compassion for others. I can treat them as I treat all human beings. I do not have to agree with their political beliefs or their actions to see them as human beings. I have gotten into a lot of debates about judging other people. As a singer and musically inclined individual, my girlfriend’s mom is constantly criticizing my opinion of so called singers. I have told her that I do not attack the person. I may disagree with their ability to perform or their talent, but that means I am not judging them as a person. I never want people to feel I judge them for who they are – their color, culture, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. I can disagree with the fact they can sing or act, without attacking them personally.
I think these differences of opinion are what need to happen, not condemnation of the person. Judgments on others can be condemning, if they judge or attack the person themselves. I had an exchange on Twitter that really put that into perspective. A woman who identified herself as a conservative compared transgender people to pedophiles. I told her that was an unfair comparison to make and I couldn’t understand what human being could be so non-compassionate to make such a comparison. Someone else responded and said this woman was not a human. Therefore, she would make such a comparison. I responded by saying to condemn her as such, to call her a non-human, was me doing exactly what she did to the transgender population. Two wrongs do not make a right. She was still a human being, no matter what and she would have to one day face the effects of her misinformation and condemnation of an entire group of innocent people.
When it comes down to it, we are all human beings. At the end of the day, we all live to die. We are all equal in that. We are born alone. We die alone. We die in spite of our race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation. We die with no political affiliation. We die with no socio-economic status. When we are dead, they can cut us open and our organs look the same. We look the same inside. Our blood is all red, and will run dry. Our hearts lay still in our chest. No belief or creed stands between us.
As we live, it seems petty to keep these differences from letting us live true and fulfilling lives. I plan to fight for the human rights of ALL human beings. We are all humans. We all deserve to live fulfilling lives that are happy and hopefully healthy. I am done trying to worry about others. I can only worry about myself. Perhaps, when all is said and done, when I die, people will remember I cared, I loved, I judged no one, for who they were. I merely hoped we could all find peace, love and understanding for one another.