Labels

The thing that I hate about people who label themselves or others as Liberals is that they’ve ruined the word liberal.

All my life I have prided myself in liberal thinking, but these grand “label makers” have made me feel impure. From teenager through old man, I have held unwaveringly liberal viewpoints before it became trendy to do so and an act worthy of banishment to not do so.

Most notably, I’ve supported with my soul and my actions the freedom of expression, whether that be speech, love, sex, art, music, clothing (or lack of), writing, alternative thinking or paradigm busting. I’ve embraced friends throughout my life of all races, national origins, religions, and sexual orientations. While I admit I was originally opposed to gay marriage given the definition of the institution as I was raised to believe, it had nothing to do with an aversion to homosexuality, and I’ve since changed my position. I’ve had close friends who were gay and lesbian throughout most of my life including an era when many were compelled remain in the closet. In the 70s, I attended Chuck’s coming out party after his transgender surgery and kissed her to wish her well.

That was then, but now we seem to live in a culture of narrow thinkers who label people to shut them down should they express an idea counter to their own point-of-view. Somehow a massive segment of our society has been convinced that another massive segment has been and continues to be victimized by bullies, racists, big business, xenophobes, sexists, misogynists, war mongers, police and homophobes. Like weeds in a garden of peace, organizations have sprung up not to address these issues but to amplify and institutionalize them. Hilary Clinton plays into this with her campaign slogan “Fighting For Us”, which might just as well be “Us Against Them”.  Who is “us”? Who is “them”? I believe the “us”, or the so-called victims and their self-proclaimed saviors, have been anointed Liberals, while the villains, or the “them”, have been stigmatized as Conservatives.

Labels get under my skin like a monster parasite from an Amazon rain forest. As I’ve tried to reason with you and to prove to you, I am liberal in my thinking and behavior. However, I am also smart, analytical and conservative in that I will defer a conclusion until there is substantial evidence to support it. I am particularly conservative in the areas of security, safety, freedom and survival for myself, my family and society at large. On questions that threaten our safety and for which evidence is still pending, I liberally pursue discussion and fact finding while erring on the side of safety until a fair and just conclusion can be reached.

The victims, the “us”, do not want such liberal freedoms of speech and expression, and choose to shut me down and others like me by applying labels such as racist and xenophobe, etc, etc. Yet, these people call themselves Liberals in the face of their own biased, phobic and sometimes violent behavior.

I’ve appealed to so many deaf ears lately that I feel like I’m calling out from inside a fish tank where my mouth moves but only bubbles emerge. Labels are a tool to keep us divided and distracted and oblivious to the players who manipulate us like pieces on a board game. Each of us is an individual with a unique mind that is more complex and sophisticated than the most powerful computer imaginable. Unfortunately, just as computers are prone to viruses, our minds are susceptible to manipulation and beliefs implanted by fear and by social movements of dubious intent.

In this season of peace, may you be liberal with your love and conservative with your fear. Before negatively labeling someone who seeks your consideration of their alternative viewpoint, think about how your reaction may prompt others to label you. Peace, love, dove homies.

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