New Words on Words ~ Ellie Pulikonda, Writer . . .


TODAY’S WORD: LABELS

When I was a child, there was in my home town a custom cannery. It was a place where you could take produce from your garden, or wild game, or fish, anything that might be preserved by canning. After processing, you took home silvery cans of food for your cellar.

However, all those cans looked exactly alike so you had to write on every can with a grease pencil to know what was inside. And sometimes the grease got smeared or rubbed out; we had lots of surprise dinners in those days.

Eventually, paper labels were introduced and they solved that problem.

Fast forward to 2016. Labels, no longer just strips of colored paper, are now applied to many things, but most of all, it seems to me, to people. Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, right-winger, leftist. In some respects these labels remind me of the grease pencils we used so long ago. It’s not altogether clear what is ‘inside’ the package labeled by these terms. Still, we act as though the labels tell us everything we need to know about another person’s beliefs or political stance or just plain old goodness or lack thereof.

.

.

People are so much more complex than any label can begin to depict. My guess is that not very many people under the same label think exactly alike. We are complex beings with many shades of belief, nuanced ideas, and mixed emotions.

Labels tend to reduce these amazingly complex persons to one dimension: their label. The label then becomes a short-cut to sorting out “our kind” from “those others.” And while we may be taking comfort in knowing there are other folks who generally think like we do, we have to realize that any given individual will differ with us on at least a few points. Americans are far more ruggedly individual than what it seems like at the present time. All liberals do not think exactly alike; all conservatives are not in a lock step with every other conservative.

The sad thing is that there is good on both sides of the table; of course, the opposite is true: there is not good on both sides of the table. Our job is to sort through the good and the not good and find a middle path. That will never happen as long as we’re so hung up on labels . . .

UNTIL NEXT TIME!

Ellie Pulikonda, Author, Writer, Blogger


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