I have never been a big fan of labels for people.  They were never very useful to me, and I discovered that the people who were so enthusiastic about placing labels on people were usually not very helpful or compassionate.  So, many many years ago, in my early adulthood, I decided I would not be a friend or agent of this process.  It's really just a way of being prejudiced with a socially approved method.  You may be right about "those conservatives" or "those liberals", but chances are, your package of predetermined characteristics for everyone in that box does not accurately apply to many of the people that you think it does.  I don't mind, for the sake of argument, looking at people based on their preference for certain opinions, such as "he's left leaning" or "right leaning."  But I realize that recognizing this doesn't mean that this person comes automatically with a predetermined set of beliefs and flaws and will never vary.  It just helps to situate them in a grand tapestry of beliefs to understand why they might be saying or doing this or that so that you can engage them for useful clarification or to politely challenge them on something that seems to step outside of the bounds of polite society in which we care about our neighbor. 

Granted, there are some people that drink the koolaide of whatever political philosophy that is their favorite and tend to be very zealous and unthinking in their debates -- down along the level of spouting bumper sticker slogans in a rally.  I believe if you engage those people one-on-one and start stripping away the hype to find out what they really mean by this or that term and whether they have really thought through their political philosophy and its implications, you are likely to find one of three things: 
(1) A nice person (nice, but misguided judging by your own system of truth) who really believes what they say and truly has compassion for people around them and has truly thought beyond the bumper sticker slogan to how their philosophy plays out in a daily life and actually lives by that philosophy;
(2) Or a person that has thought through all that but takes logical leaps and broad assumptions for truth, a moving target during debate or calm discussion, because they do not want to have their beliefs challenged, and any amount of argument you may have with them will devolve into ad-hominem attacks and raised blood pressures for you. They will not budge on their opinion, don't enjoy discussing it, and see debate merely as a war of attrition where they hope to wear you down.  For them, it is no longer about truth but rather it is an attack on their character or person, their very psyche (and they have some deep-seated pain or animosity that drives them to cling to this system);
(3) Or normal human being like yourself that has just not been taught to think more broadly and consider all possible opinions before picking one that seems to correspond best with the system of truth or religious beliefs that he/she has chosen.  You may even find that the person does not fully understand the ramifications of their chosen system of truth or belief. 

Often, young people fall in this category because they are impressionable and do not know enough about life to sift out what is just ordinary dirt and what is gold.  They usually end up following the opinions of their parents if they have a reasonably good relationship with their parents, or they follow their peer group, or they seek out an older, seemingly wiser or cooler person out in the world that they emulate.   That is, they lean on the external opinion until they day that they start thinking for themselves and realizing that they have as much to contribute to the search for truth (so long as they are grounded in a good system).  Unfortunately, some people don't grow out of that stage.  They continue to stay in the same rut of thinking, good or bad, that they chose in their youth, and take it verbatim without challenge or question or without demand that it correspond to some external system of truth (such as the Bible).  

Everybody comes from a different place in life based on their upbringing or experiences.  Sometimes it is helpful to know where they are coming from, perhaps what logical or moral baggage that they bring with them into a discussion, maybe recognize when they are just applying labels and not really thinking through.  But it is always good to remember in a debate, that the person in front of you is still a creation of God and loved by God just as much as God loves you.  And it is always good to remember that you may have more experience and a better system of belief, but that doesn't mean that you are yourself the source of truth.  You are merely relaying as best you can understand in this sin-cracked lens of a mind what God speaks to you through the Bible or personal interaction in prayer or even the thoughts, letters, or sermons of others which seem to resound with His voice.  But always, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, "we see through a glass dimly." 
 


Comments

04/08/2017 7:00am

This topic isn't very common to everyone, but it's a factor everyone of us should know. We shouldn't live a life being caged by the labels associated with us by other people. At the same time, we shouldn't practice putting a label to other people. That's just plain nonsense. We should see and treat everyone fairly. Labeling isn't good at all to define a person! It doesn't reflect them, it reflects you!

Reply



Leave a Reply

    Author

    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

    Archives

    November 2013
    October 2013
    September 2013
    August 2013
    July 2013
    June 2013
    May 2013
    April 2013
    March 2013
    February 2013
    January 2013
    December 2012
    November 2012
    October 2012
    May 2012
    April 2012

    Categories

    All