We are introduced to our world through sound in the beginning. Our mother's womb allows vibrations to penetrate the protective sack like nothing else can, save the nutrients she provides. From these vibrations we become acquainted with the outside; and when we're born sound is the first thing we experience clearly. Eventually our brains can grasp what is going on and the chaotic rhythm of life forms into manageable compartmentalized associations that help us cope with the myriad of options before us. Words enter our schematic of the universe and these words become labels for the intrinsic, mundane, specific, beloved, and desired. In fact, we would not be able to succeed, prosper, and potentially enjoy the societies in which we live without the basis of labeling quite literally everything; though a few intellectuals might enjoy discovering the unlabeled... so they can label it. As we grow and learn, experiencing the various modes of life on this precious planet we call Earth, certain connotations creep into language further coloring our Verse with little judgments that express our ideology, morals, and, most importantly, our Self.
The given designation we call a Name is the simplest, a priori transition into labels humans come across. It's usually the first thing to which a baby responds after many days/weeks of repetition and engagement. This name, however, does not give us our identity, but rather creates an Identity Space empty of the person. Because my name is Josh does not mean I josh people or am a josher by nature, though jovial and jocular utterances do engage my communities in laughter frequently enough; my identity is larger than one word or phrase or label. Life introduces us to many labels that we cannot choose: our gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc. Over time humans discover what factors in life associate them with defining words: a job, a social group, fields of studies, and even relationships; and even these descriptions of the self are not guaranteed depending on region/state/country in which one might reside. Then there are the self-chosen labels that we identify with: religion, politics, and regional affiliations. We call ourselves Democrats or Republicans, invoking all the denoted and connoted meanings to these qualifiers. We set ourselves as this sect or another of Christianity and set boundaries that group others within that specific label. We believe region sets us apart from other humans because cultures differ between mountain, swamp, or island inhabitants. But these are all words created by humans to help us understand what we see, feel, taste, hear, and comprehend. What if it's all really just meaningless babble?
It can't be meaningless because you would not be building greater concepts through my words if meaning were absent. The image of a cup -- yep, that one that just popped into your head -- is brought forth because the word "Cup" has an undeniable meaning attached to it. Perhaps this is why we label ourselves like processed food. One serving of Josh comes with a healthy view of Pagan ideologies, a small dosage of fiscal conservatism, heavy portions of social progress, a coating of Green Party propaganda; injected with college education in Literature and Astro-Physics, music appreciation, culinary ingenuity, artistic ambitions; less than 2% moody, judgmental, irrational, conspiracy theorist, etc. Do not take if Close-Minded, Judgmental, Homophobic, Racist, etc. Would this mentality disrupt the abhorrence for the other in society, by putting forward all our identity ingredients for those to choose whether or not to engage? I think not, merely because this would give the judger an automatic right to judge based on the facts of your existence. Remember my warning: Do not take if [fill in the blank]. We already judge people based off labels. Doctors are seen as intelligent to some because the title Doctor comes with years of education. But we also question whether Doctors are educated thoroughly (they study pharmaceuticals and their effect on health, not a full degree in bodily health). We judge people based off age (too young, must be wet behind the ears), gender (women aren't as strong as men), "race," and ethnicity. This is so second nature by this point we can barely notice the difference between a simple label (i.e. cup) apart from the more intricately laced labels (i.e. gay).
In order to label something we have to distinguish its difference from other objects. Human nature till this point has been to analyze for "goodness," a property of inherent wealth corresponding with desire, necessity, or social status, and thus judge separate it from others by this designation. Our daily practice is to analyze driving patterns, nutritional information, and social morals, amongst other things. America is currently in the heat of a label war within its own borders: Republicans and Democrats vying for justice against a backlash against liberal ideology present under a conservative Democratic presidency. The labels have interfered with relationships, at least in my world. My conservative extended family through my partner voted for President-Elect Trump (a label that sours my mind, squelches my heart, and demeans some respect I might have assigned that role in our nation) and has repeatedly approached us with words of wisdom, consolation, and misunderstanding. They've labeled us as "inexperienced" politically (overlooking academic studies in Political Science and sitting on a Congressional Advisory Committee), as "whiny liberals," as "misinformed." Rather than looking beyond their own label as Republicans to see what comes with the package of a Trump presidency (support from terrorists groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, Extremist Christians) and correlating that with our reactions to such an election turn out. But even here I have labeled entire groups of people with the same mindset, which is absurd. These are, however, the regular thought patterns which stem from the simplest of labels which assigns us a sense of pride, segregating us in our own prejudices, unable to grow from the lack of connection.
Pride is what helps us feel comfortable in our own labels, and I don't mean to say we shouldn't be proud of who we are. We must be careful with our labels, with the words we choose to associate with our being. Words are power: they create feeling, memory, experience. When we start piling on meanings to words, expanding them to encompass a large survey rather than the individual, we lose the Truth. As Eckhart Tolle so elegantly states:
The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. By misuse, I mean that people who have never glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as "My or our God is the only true God, and your God is false," or Nietzche's famous statement, "God is dead."
Before you label yourself, ensure you know what your labels really mean. And before you confront the ideology behind another label, make sure you know what it means for the labeled. This will help banish the confusion and misinterpretation of actions by individuals because our expectations of them won't be misguided by our own prejudice.
Know your Labels. Know your Words. Know your Verse.