Truth in Labeling

Let’s take some time today to talk about labels (better known as stereotypes) and how they harm us all.

Most of us know what a stereotype is. It is an oversimplified, very general opinion about what something or someone is like. You’ve heard of laborsaving devices? Well, stereotypes are thought-saving devices, because when you accept a stereotype, you don’t have to think for yourself at all. Your idea comes to you frozen, pre-packaged, ready to use – false or true, it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is thaw it out and slip it into your brain – nothing further is required.

However, do you realize how dangerous it is to have someone else do your thinking for you? The Nazis fed people stereotyped ideas of Jews and Gypsies to justify slaughtering them. Racists will tell you about what others of different race are like. Sexists will tell you what others, not like them, are like. Political parties rely on listeners to believe every word they say about the other party. See the pattern?

It is all about controlling what we see and hear, creating fear, and at its very foundation is a lust for power, as well as control. Over-simplification and over-generalization rob you of your power and others of their uniqueness. And “they” don’t take it from you. You give it away when you sign on to using the labels.

If you want to grow as a fully-fledged human being, you must become your own authority. Take the time to look beneath the surface, and beware of labels. A label by any other name is a one-size-fits-all stereotype. People, however, come in all sizes and styles, all colors and models. We want to celebrate our differences and not fear them. We are all more alike than we are different.

So, resist stereotypes wherever you find them. Try to meet someone who is not exactly like you… and see that they are humans, too.