Friday, July 22, 2016

Defying Labels

Several weeks ago I was having a beautiful, deep conversation with a friend about a plethora of topics; social issues, politics, religion/faith, civil rights, etc.  I say it was beautiful because even in what could be (and often is) highly emotive topics, we were both interested, engaged, free to question not out of judgement or critique but out of curiosity and a desire to understand.  We agreed completely on several issues and were fundamentally opposed on others, and there was nothing but mutual respect, love, openness, and a belief that beliefs in and of themselves matter; the heart behind them matter, and both of us will fight tooth and nail for the freedom to hold dear and respect beliefs even if they are fundamentally opposite in nature and expression.

But something did come out in the conversation that I didn’t really like; it caught me, not enough to mention or discuss in itself, but enough for me to still be ruminating on it several months later.

At one point, this dear friend said “wow, you are really a feminist aren’t you?”.  Later in the conversation she commented on how ‘liberal’ I am, “for a Christian”.

Since that conversation I’ve engaged in several others like it, where labels were also imposed on me; I’ve been called a free thinker, a perfectionist, a republican, a fundamentalist, a democrat, and an ‘old maid’.  I’ve been asked if I am pro-life or pro-choice.  I’ve chatted with people wanting to know my thoughts on gay marriage, racism, the American political system, child vaccinations, and homeschooling – not to understand my thoughts (no problem with that) but rather to give me the right label.  A hardcore republican might call me a raging liberal and a raging liberal might call me a crazy fundamentalist republican. 

I am neither.  Or both, depending on who you are asking.

If you know me at all you know I love a good discussion, and I don’t shy away from people who genuinely want to know and ask and explore differences of opinions; I also don’t know everything, I’m not always right, and there are only a few beliefs I hold that I wouldn’t be open to changing or considering alternatives if presented well.

But labels. 

What is with the need to label people?  In that particularly beautiful conversation, I was labeled a liberal feminist who loves Jesus.  She also said she didn’t think that was possible. 

What?

(all evidence to the contrary, I suppose)

Why do we need to label people? Why does everyone need to fit into a box in the grid of our worldview? 

I don’t really like that now in her mind I am a liberal feminist Christian.  I’d like to just be Krissy, if that’s okay.  Krissy, who stands for love and mercy and justice and inclusion and safety and peace and equality and hard work and relationships and strength and a pursuit of life to the full, whatever that means.  I am for medicine and for alternative therapies, for life and for freedom, for truth and science and art and music and mystery and faith and I don’t think any of those things have to be contradictory; it’s us that decide that they are and put ourselves and each other in the us vs them categories, conveniently forgetting that we are all human and we are all in this together.

I saw this a few months ago and it totally made me tear up and jump for joy at the same time. 




Yes. Can you imagine? What if we all would stop trying to force each other into appropriately labeled beige square holes, and allowed each other (and ourselves) to be who we are, shining in our respective awesomeness… can you imagine what that world would be like? Free of hatred, shame; filled with love and respect. Heavenly, in fact.


Do you think there is a place for labels? Do you think we could ever truly be free from them?  


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