by Cindy Bryerose
Ever been labeled? Ever labeled someone yourself? Everyone’s done both, sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. It starts from an early age and continues through life. Even before we are born we are labeled as the baby, the wee one, the bundle of joy or my father’s favorite “another tax deduction.” As soon as we are born we are again labeled. In my case it was baby girl Thorpe. A few days later, my parents, finally settled on a name Cynthia Claire Thorpe, and promptly called me Cindy. Is that another label?
As children, we are given many labels; tomboy, sissy girl, freckled face, nosy, above average, chatty, and big head. Believe me those are some of the polite ones. Labels come at us from all directions, friends, family, teachers, and even people we don’t know. How can someone who doesn’t even know me slap a label on me? Everyone does including me; we have all seen someone in public and described them to someone else. “I saw this lady in Wal-Mart who was so____________. “ Well you get the picture. We like to label people. A nasty hangover from our past, perhaps, still causing headaches in the present. So much for the old saying: United we stand, divided we fall.
It reminds me of something said by the man they called Honest Abe – Abraham Lincoln – in a speech he delivered. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” he said. “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
Everyday, something new divides us. Politicians are excellent at dividing us. They pit one against the other. They label people, in order to have a bit more power over us. Since we all believe that we are too smart to be used in this manner, we don’t see it happening. Smart people like us (insert your favorite label here) should surely see such clumsy attempts at manipulation coming from a mile away. Too often, we don’t see the dangers of the labels being bandied about, because we are too caught up in the challenges of the day.
These labels we use to sort and divide each other aren’t negative or positive but based on our perceptions. As we muddle through this life we are hit from all sides with information on what is the right or wrong terminology. What is PC today may not be tomorrow. It even changes from region to region. Some folks are offended by words like homosexual, dyke or lesbian. In other’s perceptions these are perfectly acceptable labels and other descriptive labels offend them.
No matter what your label is or what labels you find acceptable, we are all one people…we are all one family and we must be all one community. We must stop our in-fighting in order to make inroads to a better future. We must not become so carried away with labeling that we become our labels. If that happens we lose the ability to know where the label ends and where the human being begins.
Cindy Bryerose, Contractor for RCE
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