Oct 2, 2011


The topic of labels, just like the topic of "judging" seem to be of the kind that never reach to an end. In each case the bottom line of all mainstream publications, postings and speeches is basically that people don't like to be judged or labeled. People - either from minorities or from mainstream ranting against something or someone - pull out the bleached, worn ragged card of "you can't put me/us/people into a small little box, cram them into a category", and this does sound like such a big, strong, revolutionary argument, when in real life it's an argument suffering from the same short seeing as that they are accusing.

The particular case of labeling shall be taken carefully, being this a particular case that can get really messy, being not as simple as all its detractors want it to be seen. Labeling, just like judging, isn't by nature a bad thing. In a sense, labeling is often the staring point of judging (you first name something before you consider it inside yourself whether that thing is good, bad, likable, dislikable, neutral to you...), and the finishing point (like a second name of a better name you give to something after you have decided how will you relate to it). From here, labeling is a step each of us take tobegin understaing our environment, our entourage, and then it's also a tool we use to order the world around us. These labels come in a wide arrange of forms and types. Successful, failure, happy, sad, big, small, average, extraordinary, rich, poor, alien, local... Some are hard to change, like those related to what we've been born into, or what we've grown into, but others depend often on the choices we make. From this later batch many are labels we seek. When you choose your career, you are choosing also a label for yourself. Driver, teacher, philosopher, writer, matematician... Other labels require you to put a given level of effort. Best Player, Most Valuable Player, Successful, Nobel Prize, Best in the Field, Employee of the Month... You also can do something to earn other labels such as loyal, determinated, hard working, efficient, smart, resourceful and so on. 

There are negative labels as well, which are earned the same way: by what you do and how you do it. Lazy, careless, liar, incompetent, stupid, unpleasant, disrespectful and so on. At the same time one single person usually has a ton of labels, depending on the spheres they move. One person can be at the same time a great sibling, a terrible child, an funny friend, a disrespectful worker and a fierce sports fan. It happens, of course, that some people, at the same time, pick on label of the many they have and hold to that one and only that one and try to live their whole lives only through that one. Shedding everything they pick to be known only as "married", "parent", "boss", "independent worker", "football fan", "otaku"... It's a personal choice.

Labels, on one direction or the other, are simply the mind tags we stick to things and people to arrange them, order them in our head, in our world so that we can relate to them according to our appreciations. You won't relate the same way to someone labeled as "unreliable" as to someone labeled "trustworthy". You also may choose to know better someone and thus get in touch with more of their labels, though often people tend to pick one particular label to stick it on that person and use it as a "Main Tag". Take your best friend, for instance. You know a lot of that person, job, family, political views, favorite sports team, quirks and fun things, and a bucketful of tags. However, when you think of that person, the first label that comes to mind is "My best friend". Is that wrong? Of course it isn't! Labels are just like the name you put to files in your computer so that you can find them easier. So, when someone protests and says that they don't want to be labeled, it certainly sounds like they don't want to be known, acknowledged, recognized... and still all they achieve is to get yet again labeled.

We all are, and we'll always be.

In a way, one could say that labels, like magic and like anything human and organic, are not good or bad, light or dark, right or wrong, but they are one way or the other depending of the heart of the person who sticks the label and interpret it. Thus, the name of a label can be changed a thousand times and that won't clean it or improve it, as long as the heart of the person isn't also changed.

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