Labeling people can be a very dangerous thing. Labeling people can completely dehumanize them and cause great harm. As an example, I remember back in high school. Every now and then some of the guys would start smearing one of the girls by calling her a ‘slut’. It was shocking to me the flurry of gossip that would ignite. People started judging her and talking badly about her behind her back.
No one knew the circumstances or why the guys were trying to smear her. But as soon as she was a ‘slut’ she was no longer a person. She didn’t deserve compassion or to tell her part of the story. Luckily these smear campaigns tended to blow over pretty quickly. But I noticed, as a teenager, that even though I didn’t jump to conclusions or join in the gossip, just the fact that someone was called a slut triggered negative judgments in my mind. I immediately got an impression that she was ‘dirty’ somehow.
Since I was very deep in the closet in high school I was terrified of being labeled ‘gay’ or a ‘faggot’. Deep down, part of me understood that if I was turned into a label that my humanity would be lost. People who didn’t even know the first thing about ME would hate me and try to hurt me. In my book The Shortcut To Happiness I share how labels are often used to dehumanize and abuse entire groups of people.
This is the power of labeling people.
Now, it’s to communicate with each other without using labels. Calling a tree a ‘tree’ is a label. Calling a house a ‘house’ is a label. Every word we use is a label representing a concept. But the label does not define the thing you label. If you called a tree a ‘window’, it would still be a tree. It’s inherent nature doesn’t change just because of what you call it.
Just like those girls in high school, just because someone called them a slut doesn’t change the fact that they are human beings who want to be safe and happy, and deserve kindness and compassion just as much as anyone else.
If you want to be happy you have to be very careful about how you use your words and your labels. Labeling people can either build them up or tear them down. How you label yourself can either empower you or disempower you. So use your labels wisely.
It is important to remember that everyone — every human on this planet — no matter what they are called, is deserving of kindness and compassion. Don’t let others’ use of labels dehumanize anyone for you. Treat everyone with respect as we are all equal, and we are all in this together.
Check out this video, it’s what prompted this little article 🙂