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Lose the Labels

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a species we seem to be hung up on labels.  We are black, white, Muslim, Christian, disabled, American, German, a graduate, a lawyer the list goes on and on. Before we are those things we are all one, we are human beings, we are all born the in the same way, while we are here we breathe the same air and we all die just the same.  Until we learn to lose the labels there will never be peace and harmony in our world.

I have been prompted to write this blog article because I read another.  It was a Reiki practitioner talking of White Supremacy and White Privilege I found it tough reading as it appeared to be as derogatory and racist as those she was speaking out against.  Of course I respect her opinions as these are something that we are all entitled to, but when opinions become an excuse to hate and abuse then a line has been crossed.  I am speaking not just of humans here, it is my much considered opinion that we need to begin to see ourselves as one, not just as the human race, although this would be a good place to start, but with all other life forms and I will go as far as including the earth in this.  We have lost the ability to respect, we take what we need when we need it, we dominate when it suits us to do so and then we get angry and look to blame when things go awry.

Many years ago my eldest daughter had a friend.  He was a lovely guy, but when his parents introduced him to anyone they would say “This is Pete, he has Asperger’s Syndrome.”  So before people had had the chance to speak with him they had formed an opinion, often tinged with fear of the unknown.   Pete was different, I am different, you are different we are all different – Vive le difference!  Pete was nervous meeting new people, he didn’t enjoy small talk and became overwhelmed in certain situations, BUT he could listen to a tune and play it back on the piano immediately, he new more about the countries of the world than I could ever hope to.  In short he was a highly intelligent teenager who didn’t fit with society’s label of ‘normal’ and because of this and the way people viewed him (he also had mild Tourrette’s syndrome which made him tick at times) his parents felt the need to give people his label before they had a chance to get to know him.  The Asperger’s own website refers to it as a ‘disability’, yet another potentially limiting label.  I fully appreciate that this syndrome has varying degrees of severity and that people will be faced with symptoms that can make life extremely challenging.  Here is what the Asperger’s website says “Like other autism profiles, Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.” This sentence alone will cause some people to take a lower view of people who suffer from this condition and quite frankly who doesn’t perceive the world differently? My spiritual way of life makes me see the world differently to some other people, my own family included and that is OK.  The Western culture is all about fitting square pegs into round holes.  Some tribes (not all) in remote corners of the world accept peoples’ differences and work with them; embrace the strengths and support with weaknesses.

I recently read an article that was viral on the internet about a young woman who had been unable to get a job and so had managed to open her own Bakery in Boston.  This is a great news story of someone overcoming adversity and rising to achieve great heights – good for her!  The reason that the young woman had not been able to get a job was because she had Downs Syndrome.  The bones of the article proved that Downs Syndrome need not hold you back in achieving goals and highlighted how this label instantly causes prejudice with potential employers, however, the headline and the first sentence of every version of the story that I saw gave her the label ‘woman with Downs Syndrome’.  Perhaps we should see her as a being who has accomplished great things and overcome challenges instead?

Until we stop labelling we will never have an equal society where if a person has difficulty doing something another person who finds this an easy task to achieve steps in to lend a helping hand – no conditions, no financial payback, no ego, just one being helping another being out of altruism.

A few months ago I met a lady of mature years who told me that she hates me because of what I believe.  I had never met her before, she knew nothing of me apart from a brief overview of my beliefs and on that she was able to base a whole opinion that she felt hatred for me.  After I pulled my jaw from the floor I was able to tell her that I didn’t hate her, that I hated no one.

When we stop separating ourselves with labels we can all pull together for the good of the earth and all it’s inhabitants whether they have skin of any colour, scales, fur, feathers or are part of the wider ecosystem.

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