In an earlier blog post, I promised to address further the issue of labeling people, a form of name-calling (see “Rules of Engagement” posted on November 10, 2021). In almost all cases, I believe that labels are a means of division. They put a person into a box that has a specific set of parameters, characteristics and beliefs that serve to define that person. Two problems come from this: first, the label is almost always defined differently by each of us, and second, almost no one actually fits into the box, however it is defined. Allow me to illustrate, using labels some might place on me personally.
Some might label me a conservative. While my approach to fiscal – among other – matters may very well lean in that direction, I promise you that conservative does not come close to revealing the complexity of my thinking, philosophy, or actions.
Some might label me a privileged white male. While I am, in fact, each of those three things, I promise you that when packaged together into one neat box, that label does not come close to revealing my heart.
Some might label me a Christian (and I’ve attributed this label to myself). While I fit “a” definition of that term (see below), I am certain I would not fill all the expectations – good or bad – that this label would mean to everyone else.
On and on the labels can go, and while they can hint at truths about us – it is not up to us to place them on each other. So, I encouraged you in the above-mentioned post to engage with me in dialogue, particularly if you disagree with something I say. But to do so respectfully without name-calling or labeling me, and you have my commitment to do the same in response. In fact, let’s carry that practice into all our interactions with each of our fellow human beings.
I would also highly encourage you to resist the urge to label yourself. Tell people about yourself and your views without ‘naming’ it in a way that allows others to assume they know all about you and your view on everything.
Now for the exceptions that prove the rule. One label I will accept is “follower & imitator of Jesus Christ”. Note that this points to Jesus Christ and not to me or others who accept this label. We are imperfect; He is perfect. Whatever imitating Jesus Christ really means is what I desire to be.
Finally, one label that unites us is Imago Dei (image of God). No matter who you are, what you do, or what you believe – you are made in the image of your Creator. And this is our common ground. This is why I seek to know you, learn from you, and help you however I can.
So let’s go. Engage, leave a comment, and let’s seek each other out.