Cindy Gericke asks us to drop our labels, or use them all, or change them around whenever we want.
I hear the labels over and over. I want to scream, “people are on a continuum! We are not label material…we exist all along the curve!” This kind of statement is lost on the label lovers, the ones who proudly add, after their names, democrat, republican, heterosexual, Christian, athlete, environmentalist, professional, activist, socialite, star, even writer. The truth lies on a vast spectrum where we may be athletic, but not paid professionals. We may be conservative, but believe in a few leftist tenets. We are married, but know we are bisexual. We attend a particular church, but embrace ideology from many religions, and we hold a public persona that has nearly nothing in common with who we are when we are alone.
Knowing this, we should all be more tolerant, but we cling to our labels in order to identify ourselves and present our lives to others. It is a kind of handy box that gives us some sense of security; we must belong….somewhere. We must find our own kind in order to be validated in our truths and beliefs. We can only stand steadily on common ground. All this insecurity leads to judgement; all the judgement leads to resentment; the resentment leads to isolation.
So where is everyone? They, like me, are traveling the convoluted but honest continuum. What would happen if we either dropped all labels or included all that we are in our descriptions and personas we present to ourselves and others? We would find that we perhaps are married, and lean toward the heterosexual, but love same sex porn and secretly appreciate same sex bodies. We may find we are crazy about the environment, but but we have four children, drive a gas guzzler (to haul around all those kids!) and recycling sometimes takes a back seat; we stand in the shower too long to simply heal, and we also have a stern stance when it comes to right to life issues. We may be unable to vote within our party because the candidate does not meet our criteria for leadership, or we may miss an opportunity to be heard because another deadline is pressing, but will also rally when we have had enough. Unfortunately, we may walk away or judge when a mental illness touches our lives, yet know we have used anti depressants, or thrown up to lose weight, or secretly count every step we take because, well, we just must.
I see all the neatly wrapped individuals walking, working, shopping, and I sometimes try to imagine who they really are. I try to remind myself we are not always all we claim to be, and we are more than we may admit.
What label can you drop today? What label can you add today? Who can you empathize with or forgive because their ribbons unraveled, and their truth fell out?
So take a stroll along the continuum. You just may discover some really wonderful folks there.
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