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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Labels

Photo: www.sharenator.com
Some days I sign into Facebook, and my first impulse is to sign back out again. I probably should, anyway. It's a procrastination tool more than anything else sometimes, and Lord knows I don't need any more challenges to my focus. But I use it for marketing and to keep in touch with so many people that I don't really want to let it go. I LOVE seeing what my friends are doing, seeing their families and being at least a peripheral part of my friends' lives. I love my friends, and they are a kooky, interesting and diverse blend of awesome most of the time.

Sometimes though, Facebook can provide insight into people that is a little disheartening. It's okay though, I mean, we are all on our own journey, at different places in our lives and in our minds. It's part of the human experience. Some of my friends (quite a few, actually) are younger than me and in places I used to be. Sometimes, that's the hardest thing to observe from the sidelines. Suddenly, people my age with my beliefs are this, that and the other thing. If I believe this, I most assuredly must believe that as well. Blah, blah blah. If one were to believe the propaganda, most people are doing everything wrong and need to be flogged. The rest (and the righteous) are going to start a gosh-darned revolution. Gee, I've never heard THAT before. Nope.

I've been there. I've been young and passionate about everything. I know what it's like to feel a deep-seated rage at the way things are, to feel a need to clarify who I am and what I'm about (though admittedly, and in hindsight, that was as much for my own clarity and understanding as for anybody else). I'm still passionate and angry in my own way, but I've come to understand that identity is fluid and growth is inevitable. I don't limit myself with labels anymore, and I won't accept those of anybody else, either. F*** your labels. They are meaningless. And they can make us insta-stupid. I will use Bernie Sanders as an example (calm down, just an example! Though I do support him). Some folks are all "Ohmagawd! He's a socialist!" and others are all "Ohmagawd! he's not even a real socialist!"  and then all manner of articles and whatnot are written about the myriad of ways that Mr. Sanders is/isn't a socialist (Oooh! Shiney!) while everybody completely misses the actual, relevant points (You know, what he's done, what he's doing, his record. Sigh.) It's exactly what we do to each other; we label and make assumptions, we get hung up on the most irrelevant things. In doing so we become blind to the meaningful, relevant reality. One of the joys of getting older and seeing a few things is the liberating acknowledgement that all of us are flawed, and the journey we are responsible for is our own. We don't get to impose our labels on other people, either with sweeping (and wildly inaccurate) generalities, or misunderstanding.

And here's the real kicker: The more labels we use to define ourselves and others, the more we create a divide. Labels are used to differentiate one thing from another; counterproductive when the point is unity. The point IS unity, right? I look at you and I see a human being, I see a face, eyes, a soul. Why is anything else relevant? Can we just be human? Can we just connect with each other on that level? Now THAT would be a revolution. Eliminating labels eliminates barriers, boundaries and blame. But then where would we direct our rage? Who would we blame for our unhappiness? Our feelings of being disenfranchised? I feel it sometimes. Less so now, but I understand. There is still plenty in this world that needs fixing and plenty to be angry about. But what's the goal? Is it to piss off allies and alienate people? Does anybody KNOW the goal? Aside from rage and blame, what exactly, is being done to reach the goal? (FYI: rage and blame are not a plan. They are a catalyst, a valid way to get attention so that a plan may be implemented. You DO have a plan, right?). I know that you all have to do what you've got to do. Though the enthusiasm and passion of youth isn't always productively aimed, it usually manages to  get something done in spite of itself. It would be a pretty crappy world if nobody cared about injustice, and in that regard I applaud your enthusiasm.

Just don't label me, and don't you dare make assumptions about people, just because their journey doesn't look like yours. Isn't that doing to others what you are angry about people doing to you? People care and act in different ways and that's for a damned good reason. Sometimes, you have to meet things where they are to implement change; you have to begin a dialog, listen as well as speak. But hey, I wouldn't have listened either. Just don't judge me (or do, I really don't care) for not doing things your way.


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