Saw this meme emerging on Twitter the other day:
#TriggerA(fill in a group)in2Words
I’ve been pretty good about keeping a positive attitude for a while now about the current state of our country so I was surprised how much seeing this meme bothered me. I couldn’t shake it all weekend and finally figured it out last night. It’s the constant attachment of labels to people that’s got me so agitated. As soon as we start putting labels on people, we’re pitting ourselves against others (even if unintentional – our unconscious biases kick in).
So I started thinking about what labels people probably attach to me (or that I attach to myself).
White. Male. Idahoan. Agnostic. VC. Pro-Choice. Feminist. Liberal. Tree hugger. Middle-aged. (Who knows what else.) Most of these naturally place me in some antagonistic relationship with others.
What if we started “top down” instead of “bottom up?”
Matter in the Universe. Living organism in our galaxy. Human in our solar system. Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Child here on Earth.
Imagine, for a moment, if we just stopped there? No other labels. Just mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children trying to make it through another day. It would instantly connect all of us. With no labels to divide us, together we’d all be concentrating on the big challenges facing our one big label – humanity; How are we going to feed everyone? How are we going to take care of people and keep them safe? In what condition are we going to leave this planet for all of our children?
Just for one day, try removing every single label from every person you come in contact with, in person or on a screen. Resist the urge to attach any label (it’s going to be hard!). Look at them just in the context of Mother, Father, Sister, Brother & Child. Remember, every one of the 7,606,121,000 people on this planet fit those labels. I’m gonna try it, tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.