Thursday, March 28, 2013

Let’s Ditch the Labels

Of course I understand WHY we create labels.  I recognize that in certain contexts they are important.  But for the average layman, there really isn’t a use for them, since most of us aren’t collecting data, haven’t polled groups of people, and we only typically pull from our limited experiences and our local communities.  So since this is my first real post I’ll go ahead and start with the basics. I promise you that I understand this is probably completely unnecessary, but humor me.

When a typical person uses a label they’re grouping a population of people together that they don’t actually have accurate, empirical data on.  We do it out of anger, hate, jealousy and even admiration.  Some common examples that I’m sure we’ve all heard are things such as “Blondes have more fun,” “Asians are good at math,” “The Jewish are shrewd business people.”  Granted I’ve made these sound a lot nicer than they typically sound with their racial and bigoted slurs, but you get the point and most likely you understand that none of these statements are true in the way I have presented them.

So here’s something I thought was interesting; an algorithm of sorts.  The next time you find yourself making a comment about a group of people, try substituting the label with the name of someone you know.  Keep substituting until you find a statement that does NOT work.  It really shouldn’t take you long.  Women – if you’re making comments about men, it might be a little more difficult *grin* and the same goes for men making comments about women.  For the labels of men and women, I suggest looking outside your immediate family especially if it’s your significant other or parent making you use the label.  Even if you aren’t overly religious I think substituting Jesus and Mary will work.   If you can’t find a substitution that works, try substituting the name of your child for the label.  Since their futures are so uncertain and since no matter their faults we love them uncontrollably, most likely this substitution will result in an untrue statement.

I’ll go ahead and use the label “men” for my example partly because the only person who should happen to be offended would be my husband and I know how to make it up to him *wink wink*.  Honestly, this is just an example! 

Example:  “Men are lazy.”  I can think of quite a few men who are not lazy in the least so I would substitute the first man’s name who comes to mind.  “My husband is lazy.” Yup, that’s all it took and now my sentence is false.  I mean sure he has his lazy moments but I LOVE being lazy – it doesn’t make me a lazy person.  Doh… I’m in for it now!

Example:  “Liberals want freedom from God.”  Honestly the first person that comes to mind when I type that is my cousin-in-law who is a liberal AND a minister. “My cousin-in-law wants freedom from God.”  Well see now that just sounds stupid!

I’m actually hoping people would try this with regard to more damaging labels such as with regard to race or sexual orientation but I hate to use an example that might offend someone.  I’m certain you can find one on your own. 

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