What is it exactly about human nature that makes us want to put a label on everything? Catholic, Protestant, Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, Republican, – we think we have to label ourselves and others in many ways. I like what Philip Yancey wrote; something to the effect of “I’m too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals.” Why can’t we just be ourselves, free to change as we learn and grow and not necessarily fitting into any rigid “pigeon-hole”?
I think part of the reason we love to label is because it makes us feel more in control. We like to have things neatly organized with all our ducks in a row, and if we have things labeled we don’t have to think about them anymore. The trouble with that is we don’t think about them anymore, unless something happens to shake us up.
We’ve got that person or that group labeled, and we think we know everything there is to know about them. No need to listen to them, no need to ask questions. I think a more appropriate term than labeling would be judging. We’ve made our judgment, and that’s the end of it.
How about if we lived our lives with open minds and open hearts? I don’t mean we don’t hold people accountable for their actions. I don’t mean we never have an opinion or never take a stand for anything, but we can do this without making someone else the enemy or refusing to listen to anything that doesn’t seem to line up with our current thinking. People aren’t our enemies anyway, systems of thought are.
Be open, be curious, be graceful, be loving – that does a lot more to open other people up to conversation and dialogue than our ridicule and judgment. Set an example, start a movement, begin today. . .