As I mentioned in a blog I wrote last week, as a society we seem to be in love with labels. We have labels for CDs (Yes I still buy them), for features of products, for allergy risks in foods, where to cross the street, the type of restaurant where you are eating and the list goes on. As a people, humans appear to love labels. They take the guess work out of many things for us. When we see the recycling label on a piece of paper we know it has been recycled. Labels tells where to go, how to act and what to do. What if one day all the labels were gone? No more street signs or store signs or even “For Sale” signs dotting the landscape and cars. There would be no prices at the grocery store. One would just see long rows of shiny cans. You would have no idea what gas cost when you filled up. Driving would be a nightmare. With no speed limits or construction signs highways could be quite dangerous. We would be like a bunch of toddlers running around with no idea of what was what. All around us are the labels we see. What I want to talk about today are the ones we don’t see. These are labels we give but never print out or post for the world. How many times have you said, “That person is really smart,” or “That person is and idiot?” When was the last time you were in traffic and thought, “That guy doesn’t know how to drive. He’s going to get someone killed.” On the other hand you might say, “Please let me in the lane. Please let me in the lane. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you. (Obligatory wave) That driver is so nice.” Was the very first person really that smart or did they happen to do something smart in your presence once? Was the second person really an idiot? Most likely the answer is no. Likely the person did something ill-conceived once or even twice around you and you slapped the label on. How about the drivers? In all fairness, it is safe to say most drivers on the road have a license. That would preclude the fact that they do in fact know how to drive. Are they going to actually kill someone? I certainly hope not but out shoots the label. How about the kind soul that let us into the lane. Are they really that nice? Maybe they have a dead body in the trunk of their car and simply didn’t want to take the chance of an accident where the police might become involved and his crime might be discovered. The point I am trying to make is that labels in and of themselves are not necessarily a bad thing. They can be helpful by saving time and aggravation. Often times, however, they are carelessly tossed about based on little information. When that happens feelings can be hurt and wrong impressions can be left. Kind of feels like the playground at school as a child all over again, doesn’t it?
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