Labels don’t help anyone

A liberal is defined as:

open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values

A moderate is defined as:

professing or characterized by political or social beliefs that are not extreme

A conservative is defined as:

holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion

You now what? I’m sick of labels. I get why we have them, it puts people into neat containers that assist others in interacting with us in a predictably certain way. In my life I don’t think I’ve considered myself completely a conservative; I see my parents as conservatives. They’re in a routine that spans the entire week, a daily ticker of tasks that are done in order. They get cranky and out of control when they’re routine is imbalanced, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. I see a lot of people I’m friends with solid conservatives and that isn’t a bad thing. The problem I have in trying to accept their point of view and opinions is when they take me back to History class when I learned about Jim Crow and the horrible treatment people who didn’t deserve it went through. The Catholic Church is conservative. My Grandparents were conservative, and often to the point of me getting angry at the hateful crap coming out of their mouths.

I’m also not completely a liberal, or at least, not to the extent that it fits my viewpoints. There are some ideas and actions that I endorse that can fall conservative, some liberal, however the context around those ideas and actions are what drive me to support them. Not just the idea or action by itself. A good example, I’m opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline being constructed through property that isn’t the domain of the government; eminent domain is pure bull. I’m not categorically opposed to the pipeline itself being built provided that modern technology be utilized to make it something safe and productive. In 2016, I can’t believe that we’re not able to build a pipeline properly in the same fashion that we can build a 110 story building designed to resist an earthquake up to 8.0 magnitude. The point I’m making is that I see the benefits of being less dependent on foreign oil in the short-term (conservative) so that we can make the changes necessary to find alternatives to oil (liberal). Embracing both sides of the fence I see as being moderate; embracing the best ideas, on both sides, for the common good of all.

When it comes to human rights though, I’m very much a liberal in that we need to shed the conservative views of the past, and big time. We live in an age where people are gay, lesbian, trans-gender, bi-sexual, pan-sexual, etc. (all labels by the way). My frustration starts with the lack of understanding as to why any of these people, all human beings by the way, do not have the same rights to live as they want as Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, etc. live in this country. Being fundamentally opposed so something doesn’t mean that the person who *is* that something should be treated any less than human than you. The level of prejudice in this country is at a ridiculous level, but it’s always been like this. The only difference now, as opposed to the past, is the Internet. Our species has been connected in such a way as never before in history and our reaction to this interconnection is fear. Real time atrocities come at as from all directions and we don’t have the capacity to process it properly, we acknowledge the fear and fall back on fight or flight response. We have a lot of healing to do before we can expect things to change at all, if they ever do.

Capitalism is defined as:

an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state

Socialism is defined as:

a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole

Here is my issue with these labels. You could reasonably debate that the United States is a capitalist economy, but not politically. You could reasonably debate that the United States is a socialist political system, but not economically. This system of socialism, where the wealthy elite control trade, industry and the means of production, distribution, and exchange of said industry while the rest of the country languishes in what’s left of a capitalist system just doesn’t seem to work. I know this because the people most affected by this clearly biased system silently made their voice heard regarding the Democrats and elected Donald Trump as our next President. I’m not saying he isn’t the right person for the job nor am I saying Clinton would have done better or worse than him, please don’t comment about that. My point is trying to show that our system is broken, hopefully not beyond repair, and I hope that the Republican controlled WH, Senate, and House can make the changes necessary to start repairing the system as a whole.

Our path forward is a foggy sea of labels and preconceptions. We need a storm of change to blow away the fog and finally get us to a better place as a species. It starts with one, then two, then four, then eight….. we can spread tolerance and the need to treat people with dignity as quickly as hate and prejudice spread now. Years ago, I used to be “that” guy with a “black friend” that thought he knew everything about treating others with respect. It took someone very wise, that I consider a close friend and life mentor, to break me of that learned behavior and see the world through his eyes. I was appalled at how I had been living and thinking, I attached labels to everyone. Even more disturbing was that I felt ashamed that I had lived my life completely opposite of how I “thought” I had been living it. What he taught me, showed me, helped me understand is priceless. Most of my writing reflects what he was able to make me understand over several years after graduating high school. I’m not perfect, my archives show that, but I’m listening and in turn, I’m learning. I don’t label others anymore, except my brother, but that’s a topic for another day.

We can all learn something from everyone, we just have to give them a chance to do it. A label puts you at a disadvantage every time.