You know, when I wear a blouse and the label sewn into the collar or neckline bothers me or irritates my skin, I cut the damn label out. And, currently, in this political season, labels being sewn on people and groups are not only irritating my skin, but they are getting under my skin.
I’m tired of the labels and the labelers – the media, the candidates, the exit pollers, the political parties themselves. Let’s get rid of them, the labels that is. Instead of slicing and dicing the voting public and people by color, ethnicity, economic status, level of education, religion, and gender, let’s simply call the American people “voters.” And let’s debate the issues. Let’s offer solutions.
There’s constant talk of unification – unifying the nation, unifying “the parties,” – yet we keep using terms that separate us. Watching the coverage of a recent political rally, I saw a peaceful protester in one camp shoved by a not so peaceful protester from the other camp respond with, “But I’m an American, I’m an American.” Yes, she is, we are.
As a nation of immigrants, we all have roots in other countries. We all bear these roots proudly. And we’re curious about our past. Look at the number of people going to a site like Ancestry.com to find their roots and buy a DNA test. While we each enjoy our uniqueness, we are also team players on the American team.
We can’t ignore poverty, crime, gun violence, health care needs, shortfalls in education, economic differences, world crises, terrorism, or turn a blind eye to segments of our society in need. We can’t view the world through rose tinted Ray-Bans. But why can’t we use, at least in the case of the upcoming election, inclusive terms like residents, constituents, and voters?
Certainly, labels have purpose and use. According to an article in Psychology Today called, “Why It’s Dangerous to Label People” by Adam Alter:
Labeling isn’t always a cause for concern, and it’s often very useful. It would be impossible to catalogue the information we process during our lives without the aid of labels like “friendly,” “deceitful,” “tasty,” and “harmful.” But it’s important to recognize that the people we label as “black,” “white,” “rich,” poor,” smart,” and “simple,” seem blacker, whiter, richer, poorer, smarter, and simpler merely because we’ve labeled them so.
Labels have a way of sticking to people. The old adage of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes into play causing some to think, I’m labeled that way, I might as well behave that way.
Let’s realize what people labeling does. It affects our actions and beliefs.
“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Can we, for the remaining political season and general election process, retire the divisive labels? I’m campaigning for the use of terms like voter, American people, and team. Thanks for “listening.”