I have determined that I am a non-labelist because of a blog I read earlier that I had decided to comment on. If you search the web for a definition you might find one. All I found on it came from a 1903 article about sectarians and non-sectarians. The author chose to lump the non-labelist in with the non-sectarians because he defined non-sectarians as those who lack a clear conception of their doctrine.
Well, I’m not trying to establish a religion or create a movement, at least, not intentionally. So I have no doctrine to have a misconception about. The whole subject came up because the blogger I was reading was looking for a label and “no label” was not an option for him. That was fine with me, so I dropped the subject and moved on.
I didn’t think about labels again until I encountered a post that used the label “millenials” to make some really mean statements about that particular group. That made me more than a little angry. I’ve never liked labels, but I have used them to bolster my self-esteem or identify myself as member of a group so I could meet like-minded people. I think that is why most people label themselves. If I use the label “veteran”, I find that the attitude of the general population in America is positive and appreciative, and it helps me increase my sense of self-worth.
There was a time when I used the label “Christian”, but I found that the label didn’t help me find “like-minded” people. I actually met so many people with that label that had what I consider a “Toxic” mindset, that I stopped using it.
Labels are useful in one way as far a I’m concerned. To label an object is almost mandatory if you need to refer to that object on a regular basis. Changing the label has no effect, the object will not change. A name change may cause your conception of the object to change, but the object will still be whatever it is, no matter how you conceive it.
The good thing about these types of labels is that changing them rarely does any harm. To you or anyone else. The only problem it might create is when most people know the object by another label, in which case they are confused by the reference, and you have to explain the label to them. This problem disappears once enough people become familiar with the label. Even now, new labels take time to filter through the population and become commonly used. Here I think of “Cell phone” as a label that would confuse most people before 1960, but just about everyone knows what a Cell phone is today.
Using a label on a human being is bad for a number of reasons. It always justifies a prejudice related to the label itself. My problem with them is that labels create divisions among the public by creating groups. If the group is positively perceived by society at large, then it doesn’t affect the unity of the people. But with the existence of more groups, there is always the possibility that the opinions of the people can divide the society, as one group is considered more valued than the other. In the early days this was not such a problem. But as the differences of each group began to intensify to the point that it spawned actual hatred, the problems for society became obvious. Because society at large, in those days, had a bias towards some groups, the government could easily step in and dismantle the offending group completely if needed. Even with divisions that existed, a certain amount of unity allowed for government intervention. As the number of groups grew, a consensus on any particular group was hard to reach. Especially if the majority of the people had never heard of the group. You can’t use a label against a group if only a few people know what that label means. Newspapers were about the only way you could “inform” the people of an issue. If the newspapers didn’t write about you, then the people were unaware of your existence. This allowed some groups to do anything they wanted until the newspapers took notice. This was a problem for the evil doers. It disrupted their goals, so of course they recognized the need to attack the source. Discrediting the source was a method, I believe, they learned from our legal system and it’s evidentiary requirements, i.e. “beyond a shadow of a doubt”. Creating doubt was enough to hang a jury, and even prevent conviction. In the general public, doubt is much more effective at preventing consensus. You don’t have to convince a majority of anything. As long as you keep the number of those who could harm you low enough, you had free reign. Which is why creating new divisions in society is such bad thing.
It wasn’t so bad at the beginning. But even the more positive labels give people a preconceived notion of what the label means that can be harmful. The label “Doctor” for example, gives most people an idea of trustworthiness, professionalism and integrity that all Doctors don’t deserve. Well, it used to do that. It still does in some people. But most people have come to realize the danger of accepting that label as is. Hence the idea of “shopping” for any professional has caught on in modern times.
Unfortunately, even the negative labels that existed for good reasons (or so some people thought) were bad because of the way the bad prejudice became a weapon for persecution. Criminal seems like a negative label that was appropriate until the abuse of its use became a tool for those who intended to do harm. Politicians have become especially adept at utilizing any negative label in order to take advantage of the prejudice created by the label. Think “Communist” for example, when I was growing up it was a common method for most to use whenever they disagreed with another persons statements but had no logical way to justify opposition.
Communism is not as looked down upon as much today as it was back then. Neither is the other favorite: anti-american.
Attacking people with labels has become a sport in modern society. The worst attacks can result in physical actions that, by most standards, are considered violence.
I’ve said all this to focus on the increase in groups that has allowed even greater divisions to be created. Instead of having a group to label, creating the label can be used to create the group. It spawned a new type of group. It was an attack on one of these groups that sent me down this road. In this case, it’s the generational label. As far as I can tell, it was my generation that created the problem to begin with, so perhaps my motives could be driven by a sense of guilt.
Either way, the first generational label that I’m aware of appeared in the late 60s, when the “counterculture” movement spawned the “Hippie Generation” label. The counterculture had grown large enough that a major split seemed to develop among the general population. Of course, the Vietnam war helped to intensify the new division to the point that created a major disruption. Someone felt it necessary to label the source so the people had someone to blame. The label “hippie generation” helped give the general public a target to vilify, and kept them from focusing on the real problems of society.
Either way, we get a new generational label as soon as enough young people get together on a group of topics that it bothers the people in power. I think the “Woke” generation is the latest of these. I don’t know really where the hell any of these labels come from. But I do know that Americans are so divided already, that creating additional groups is making things worse. And now I know that generational labels, which I first thought to be amusing but harmless social constructs, are being used to intensify the divisions to the point where violence is becoming more common. Growing hatred may cause the violence to reach a point where America herself is in danger of being dismantled.
I think, by now, anyone reading this would understand my reticence to use labels for people or groups. It might even have occurred to you that “non-labelist” sounds like a perfectly good label. I’m not using it anytime soon, however, because like all labels, it carries a prejudice that may alter peoples approach when engaging in common discourse. And so far, the absence of a label has not created a problem for me. Not having a label to judge me with, makes it necessary that people who must judge read at least enough of whatever I say or write to get to that point where they can comfortably pass judgement. So that means that there is a chance they will comment on it.
Whether the comment is positive or negative is irrelevant for me. It will add to me in some small way even if negative, and if positive it could even enlighten me.
How could I lose either way. The worst thing is no comment at all. And even that only means I won’t grow. My intentions with all my posts is to add to people in some small way that helps them understand the universe better. Understanding always adds a bit of peacefulness to peoples lives, if for no other reason than the fact that it reduces confusion.
I don’t kid myself about the idea that I might educate or enlighten or even change perspective. If my posts can give anyone a better understanding of any subject, then that little reduction of confusion is fine with me.
I seek comments most of all so I can tell if I’m doing terribly, or so-so, or if I might actually be doing harm. I don’t intend to do any harm. I don’t mean to offend, but I know that sometimes I do.
But I don’t know everything, and I will not know what I might be doing wrong if I don’t get some feedback. I’m really like a young child who has no idea of what a fire is, and seeing a lit stove wants to stick his hand in it. I just hope there is an adult out there who will stop me.