“Labels are just an excuse to stop thinking.” That is one of those quotes I read years and years ago, I believe in the writings of the great linguistic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and have never forgotten.
We can be so quick to label each other, and in so doing loose sight of the person behind the caricature. I find that so…sad.
Can a person ever be summed up, so neat and tidy, by a label?
I don’t think so. But what a label can do is give us a neat and tidy way to dismiss and discount others, and perhaps to make us feel superior to them.
I thought about this at our recent Diocesan Convention. I thought how easy it was for all of us—my self certainly included-- to label, one way or another, those who differ from us. You can think of how easily that it is happening now in American politics, or how such labeling is so prevalent in the blogosphere.
And I thought how when we do that, we stop learning from those who, precisely because they are different than we are, can teach us what we cannot teach ourselves. The result is that we continue set in our ways, even if, truth be told, those ways stopped serving us well long ago.