I have been thinking about labels. A very useful concept. A stack of boxes with no labels is a nightmare of exasperated searching. When there are labels, it narrows the search, saving time.
Labels are a short cut to anyone searching, like signs on a map.
Labels on people work the same way. Conversations are edited, information to be shared is steered in one direction, information received is processed by a filter based upon the label.
All this is helpful if the label is correct. Unfortunately it is rare that the box generates its own label. People are mostly labeled by other people.
So, mislabeling is probably the most harmful action to real communication. It’s a useful short-cut only if it is correct.
A list of current important labels…
1. believer & non-believer. Something to watch for is the hidden bias. Defining a whole group of folks as “non” tends to invalidate their position.
2. Liberal and conservative. There is a difference, but the differences are not fixed by the words. People apply the specifics, and they change over time.
3. Democratic and autocratic. The same thing apples from above.
So maybe we need to use different labels
1. Loving and hateful. Now this is a really useful label if can be proved true.
2. Good and evil. This is great, if we can actually find folks who honestly embrace evil.
3. Moral and immoral. Same problem exists, who champions immorality?
Perhaps in the comic book universe where superheroes and super villains exists.
I have been asked often about where I stand. What label that is self defining?
Periodically my children ask who I voted for? I declare that I took an oath to defend our right to a secret ballot. The problem is that the secret ballot hasn’t always been central to the constitution.
In fact, there is ample evidence that democracy depends upon knowing exactly where a representative stands by a simple yes or no vote n public.
I am not a label, it would not be easy to place my beliefs in one camp or another. I am not an independent, although I tend to think independently. I have registered with a party where I believe I can have a larger impact, not because I am surrounded by lockstep thinkers.
My wife has a genealogy that is missing. There are grandparents and cousins that basically disappeared in 1941. I have taken that to heart as an analogy.
The most basic label is… there are people that will put you on the train… because they are evil, or frightened, or unthinking, or mistakenly patriotic, or apathetic, or just plain asleep.
And then there are people that would never, ever, on the pain of Death, even consider putting people on the train.
I know where I stand in this labeling and it is my first consideration when I look at the labels of others.