This is weighing on my mind today. And so I have to write about it. Labels. Our society is run on them. Black, white, rich, poor, police, civilian, man women, gay, straight, Christian, non-Christian, Jewish, Muslim...I could go on, but I think you get the point. What's the biggest marketing message? Branding.
I am sick to death of it. The only label I want to identify and associate with is a "human being". Not a human doing, as my Dad says. Because that is the label that matters, a human being. And down deep, beneath our skin and our social status and our societal stigmas, that is what we are. We all seek to be understood and accepted for who we are. It saddens me that we as a human race have such a hard time getting there. We want to be so different but in the end, we are all the same in our need for love and understanding.
I do my best to take people as they come to me, regardless of the label they identify with, and then decide if I want to keep them in my life. I want to get below the anger, the emotion, the labels, down to what really matters, which is the person. I have known terrible white people, wonderful black people, horrible poor people, amazing and generous rich people. Good cops, bad cops, terrible people who've never committed a crime in their life, and some pretty amazing "criminals", as defined by our societal labels.
I understand why we label. The ego seeks to understand what it does not know, and therefore labeling comes in handy to classify and keep everything tidy and reject everything that does not fit. And so enters fear, the great divider of the human race. Fear we won't get ours, or you will take mine. But, we are missing EVERYTHING when we allow these labels to dictate our identity.
I am an American. I am white. I am a woman. I am single. And I am over 40 years of age. There are certain labels and stigmas associated with all of the statements above. But I don't listen. And I don't care. I am my own person, and I refuse to let others dictate who I am. As a white person, I hear over and over again about a past I had nothing to do with. As a woman, I hear "oh, you women, so complicated and emotional". As a single, I get asked over and over again, "Why no kids? Why aren't you married?" As an over 40-something, I hear "oh you can't do that, you're not getting any younger." People around the world hate Americans, so don't travel. I call bullshit on all of this. If I choose to believe these things about myself, then I too am mired in the land of the ego and labels and run on fear. I have decided I will figure out things on my own. None of this stuff is my identity. I think people get attached to these labels because they have no idea who they are. And it's always easier to identify with a group, because there is a perceived safety in it.
We as humans have got to get below this. Not above this, but below it. Down to the humanity of ourselves, and each other. It breaks my heart to think about how we as humans treat each other. If I recognize myself in another, and value them as much as I value myself, then this question of treatment based on a label, rather than a person, would never even be an issue. And I would never, ever bring harm to another. There is so much beauty in the world, in all different kinds of people, and we are missing this because we want to hide behind our labels. Because we think they keep us safe.
But they don't. When death comes, and it will for all of us, no amount of money or power can stave it off. We resist and resist and spent countless billions of dollars trying to elude death, instead of living and growing and taking in all the beauty of life there is while we are here. We are all mortal, and nothing we do will ever change that.
I have seen death. Death took my mom from me. There has never been anything more terrifying before or since. I understand anger at a tragedy that seemed senseless and unwarranted. But she taught me something so important. She saw no labels. She didn't care if you were homeless, a CEO or something in between. She had this amazing ability to go straight to the core of a person, and get to their essence. She understood the humanity in all of us. Not everyone is so lucky to have had such a great teacher in their life.
And that is why I value life so highly. Because I have watched it dissipate, as the last breath rattled from my mother's chest. And so when a life is taken, my heart breaks. On the physical level, we lose that soul. Extinguished forever. We, as humans, have got to stop leveling physical and emotional death blows to each other every time we turn around. I am thinking very seriously on this and what I can do in my own life to bring harmony and peace to others. I read a quote that said something like peace is not the absence of conflict, but creative solutions to it.
It's not just about ending racism, that is a symptom of a larger problem. It is about accepting and understanding our own selves first, and then moving out to others. When we are strong in ourselves, advocating for those who maybe don't know how or can't advocate for themselves becomes very easy. It IS our responsibility, because we are humans, all of us. We all have opportunities for this in our every day life, within our own friends and family, and to the world at large. Every single interaction with a fellow human being presents us with an opportunity to share a bit of kindness and understanding. And I would hope those ripples would begin to generate a torrent of kindness that would push back the sea of fear we are drowning in.