Depending on who you ask, various people may describe me as being one the following: A male. A white male. A straight white male. A cisgender white male. An arsehole…
While technically speaking none of these descriptions are inaccurate, I do have an issue with their use because while these labels can be used to describe me, they don’t define me.
I am and always have been myself so why would I need to put a label on who or what I am?
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. How dare this lower-class white boy come along and tell me as tell me how to feel. And you’re right, how dare I but here’s the thing, I’m not telling you how to feel. I’m telling you how I feel.
As much as certain labels can help us find like minded people to socialise and interact and helps us share ourselves with those that accept us for us, they also help to divide us. Just because someone is part of a different social or political circle than yourself, it doesn’t make them wrong or evil or ignorant. It just means they have different views, opinions and experiences that they can pull from and share with us and if we let labels stand in the way of that we miss out on something that could help us grow as a person.
We are the only species on the planet that ostracise our own people based on what goes on in their head and their heart.
Black, white, green, blue, male, female, transgender, straight, gay, bisexual, fat, thin, solider, actor, politician, right handed, left handed… Who cares? Why does it matter? At what point do our difference just become trivial features with no true meaning or consequence.
We are not our labels much like a motherboard is not computer. It may be part of the system as a whole, but it isn’t the what defines it and the same goes for people.
Why can’t we just be ourselves? Having a different skin colour or sexual orientation from the person next to you shouldn’t define you as one thing and them as another. Last I checked, we’re all human so be whoever you want to be. Be true to yourself. Be true to your heart, your desires and your feelings but be yourself and don’t waste time trying to put label on what you are or might be.
We’re all built the same way. We’re all carbon-based lifeforms that are mostly comprised of water and we share about 50% of our DNA with bananas but we don’t label ourselves as a river or fruit do we? Yet, person’s skin is only about 15% of their whole, but we’re happy to identify our race.
More than that we’re happy to identify our nationality based on a line drawn on a map and be loyal to a flag simply because our specific DNA combination just so happened to materialise within the borders of a particular country.
I could go on but my point is, sharing commonality with a particular group shouldn’t define who you are. At the end of the day we’re all human and in my opinion the only true label that we should be looking for, both individually and collectively as a society, is happiness. As long as you’re happy, what does the rest matter?
Maybe I’m delusional. Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe I don’t see or understand the larger issue but why does there have to be a larger issue? We are not the sum of our parts. We are the whole. We are not a river. We are not bananas. We are human. We have the freewill to be whatever we want to be so why can’t we just be?
I understand that we strive to feel like we belong but why can’t we belong together? It doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, who you’re attracted to or what you believe in, we’re all human and we all come from the same place and the only thing that truly divides the world is money. The concept of money is man-made and I’d argue that it destroys more lives on the 21st Century than any other issue we have but how often are we describing ourselves as being rich or being poor?
People starve because they can’t afford to eat. People wage war because they want the wealth that natural resources like oil can provide but instead, we squabble over what makes us who are, where we’re from, what colour our skin is or who we want to sleep with. We argue nature vs. nurture and have politicians debating gender equality and we stand divided in the face of it all.
Issues such as race, gender, sexuality, religion only exist because we let them exist. If someone believes you aren’t entitled to the same rights as they are regardless of the reason, they are wrong.
Rights are rights. Not race rights. Not gender rights. Human rights.
At the end of the day the bigots, homophobes and racists of this world are the true minority and we need to stop pretending that we’re so different from each other and putting labels on who we are. All we have is this planet and each other. You are you. I am me. We are we.
While labels may help describe us, they don’t define us but they do help divide us.
by Edward Laing