We all have labels for our self and others. It is hard to live without picking up one or two as we progress along the merry yellow brick road of existence. The most basic relate to our age, sex, nationality and ethnicity. Others point to our job, relationship status, sexual orientation and religious beliefs. When we meet someone we often ask key questions so that we can mentally place them in certain pigeonholes. It helps us to learn something about people without having to ask the same questions over and over. If we know someone if a fireman, we have a pretty fair idea about what he does in his job, likewise for a secretary, actress, farmer and accountant.
So, where’s the problem?
Well, there is none just so long as we don’t go confusing labels with reality or believing that our past experience of certain labels means that others sharing that label will have the same or similar characteristics. But no one would ever believe that all people from the same country were the same, surely? Or that there is no such thing as a nice Democrat/Jehovah’s Witness/Iraqi/Creationist/*insert your own prejudice here*. Notice the effect each of those words have on your mind. Some will have none, others might make you tense slightly. And this is just a word with no person in sight. Continue reading