Friday, June 25, 2010

Labels

I don't like to refer to people in terms of labels. This seems reductive to me. When one person refers to another person by a label, this doesn't magically transform the reality of who that person is. A person is not whatever label is applied to them. A person is a person. It's "ok" to use labels (e.g.) to simplify a person's position on an issue as long as the label-user (and his/her audience, if any) acknowledges this fact.

In a sense, it's "cool" for a group of people with common goals or ideals to refer to themselves with a label because (perhaps) it makes them feel like part of a "team," or a "club," or whatever. It might even increase their ability or desire to achieve that goal! Human beings are genetically tribal animals.

I often eschew taking sides, joining groups or teams, or labeling myself. I'm not even very fond of the "atheist, theist" labeling system. These aren't two monolithic, "black and white" divisions of people.

If I must label myself, I think an acceptable label would be "clarificationist." That's what I'm always pursuing: clarification.

Have I made myself "clear"?