Men (and women) love boxes. Boxes to put their things into, to hide themselves inside, to contain their identities.
Humanity tries to simplify things by giving everything and EVERYONE a name. Now, this isn’t bad. One of the first things God told man was,
… God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.Genesis 2:19
Names are wondrous things. They bring about personification, order, and routine. They add color, and they bring out character. They can even bless the bearer.
But man has a nasty habit of turning what God meant as good into something unrecognizable. When labels define you so much that you are stuck in a box and unable to comprehend anything else, or even be anything else, one should question the labels they have attached to their identity.
Some labels, I will gladly accept, because they give me room to be more.
Some of these wholesome labels that don’t keep me in a box are:
- Believer/ Follower of God
But even with any of these labels, I need to be careful so that none of them take hold of me so much that I can’t live and grow and become more than just that one word. With these sort of labels, though, it is easy enough to let the list grow longer and not become stilted.
For the most part, by relating and accepting these labels I receive the impression that I wish others to know of me. These are honest labels that truly represent aspects of me and my values.
One of the dangers of labels is that they are too big for the box we try to stuff them into. To some they represent a good connotation, and to others something quite horrible. And for that reason I will not accept certain labels. They hinder, confuse, and stir hatred. They never define for the purpose of beauty and order, but for a purpose more murky.
Here are some labels that I believe restrict humanity:
- Democratic/ Republican/ Libertarian/ Other
- Capitalist/ Socialist
- Liberal/ Conservative
- Christian denominations, and even at time the word Christian
Out of all of those that I do call myself a capitalist, but I’m starting to realize that it doesn’t help my cause to say “I’m a capitalist” but to express my values. Also, I do say I’m conservative too often. But, I’m starting to say it less as I realize a lot of liberals and I have similar values.
That being said, I am starting to believe that most Liberals are conservative-want-to-be’s and just ignorant of the fact or unsure of how to free themselves from the bondage of the laws they think they must abide by in order to become full force conservative. Ah, but too many labels in that sentence. Meaning, that only those with values akin to mine will be able to fully understand what I said, and even then many may be offended. Because using labels rather than actual words breed confusion.
But I’ve never adjoined myself to any political party or Christian denomination for this reason: They are boxes too full of baggage to have much room for any lasting values.
And when you accept a label, one always assumes that you also accept all the baggage associated with it.
If I vote for someone, I want to know what they stand for, not what party they associate with.
I’m not impressed if you tell me you’re a libertarian, but if you tell me you’re all for abolishing property taxes you have my full admiration.
I don’t care if you’re a democrat. Be democrat or anarchist or whatever, I don’t care … but if you’re promising peace while other parties are stirring up trouble, you better believe I haven’t any labels to prejudice who’ll have my support.
Labels either set us apart and make us more, or they divide us and make us less. Just think how much stronger Christianity could be if it’d quit splitting into denominations.
I’m by no means advocating for “let’s tolerate all sin and persecute those who don’t”. I’m advocating for the termination of labels that separate us, and that we return to a place where we discuss values and ideas and philosophies with a civility that begs for both parties to grow.
I’m asking that politicians tell us what they stand for, not for which vague label they’ve claimed or been assigned.
I’m asking that you start this change. Next time someone asks you if you’re for socialism or capitalism, ask them what they mean by that, and then if they are up for a discussion, don’t resort to a label but share what your ideal economical society looks like.
I know for myself, once I rip away the labels, the world I dream of has bits and pieces of all the different labels. We need socialism when it comes to families, but when it comes to business we need free capitalism (no government corporations, mind you). But even there, for the sake of space I’ve resorted to using labels.
The funny thing, is when you try to have a discussion without using labels, people will still label you. Here recently, I was discussing how I thought government should play into economics and I was most assuredly informed that I was an anarchist.
Funny enough, the person who told me that didn’t mean to insult me (even if offense had been meant, I wouldn’t have accepted it). But, don’t worry, I’m certainly not claiming that label. It has way too many negative connotations to help explain my values with any real authority.
But this is a perfect example of just how superficial and unhelpful labels can be.