Labels Belong on Clothing, Not People…

I am not even sure where to begin with this particular blog!

Recently, I asked friends on Facebook for suggestions on blog topics.  My friend Dee-Dee responded with:  “Blog about the human condition and stereotypes and how it is really hard to find genuinely nice people who do things just to be kind and how even though we have supposedly come so far, racism is still a huge problem …the human condition is that people cannot look past the skin/geographical location/socioeconomic class etc…and just see the spirit of one another that is made from and of love but is smothered by the stereotypes actually perpetuated by “religions”, government and even media and entertainment industry. “

Because this is a serious topic and not just my normal ranting or opinionated commentary on a random subject, I felt a bit of research was in order.  WOW.  Stereotyping truly runs rampant in our society.  Think about it…

Overweight people = lazy

White people = rednecks

African-Americans = criminals

Teenagers = rebellious

People on Welfare = only looking for a handout

Gun owners = bitter (and this one comes from our President)

Addicts = bums on the street

Homosexuals = incapable of having real relationships

Celebrities = shallow

Christians = holier-than-thou fanatics

Politicians = hypocrites

Law Enforcement = corrupt

Do I need to go on?  Isn’t this enough?  Sadly, the list is endless or so it seems.  And I’m guilty.  I will not lie and say I’ve not stereotyped an individual because of an entire group’s (man-made) reputation.  I have.  Most people do.

Where does it come from?  Here is where my opinion comes in – my belief is that it’s created out of historical data, misinformation, lack of thinking on our own and just pure stupidity.  In this day and age, it seems to me that we’d all be a little smarter and a little less judgmental.  We’ve come a long way people and it is time to stop allowing outside sources to influence us, start using our own brains and stop letting others think or make decisions for us.  Each one of us would rather be looked at as an individual right?  We want to be known for our individual style, taste, choices, ideas, etc.  So why is it okay for us to look at one person and lump them in with an entire group?  It isn’t.

With the examples I listed above, the fact is there are overweight people who are lazy and just eat too much and don’t exercise.  What about the ones who have a health condition that causes a weight problem?  Every single race has criminals so where is the fairness in applying that label to just one race?  There are a lot of teenagers who do great charity work, excel in school and respect their parents so why consider them all rebellious?  It’s true that some addicts are bums on the street but what about the ones who function everyday, earn a living, have families to support yet can’t break their addiction?  Not all politicians are hypocrites, not all law enforcement are corrupt,  not all people on Welfare are looking for a handout and yes, gay people can and do have real relationships, have families and can feel true love just like straight folks.  As a society we choose to toss out all of these labels largely because we do not take the time to look at each individual.  We don’t bother to look at the person.  No.  Change that.  We look but we don’t always SEE.  It’s lazy.  It’s unacceptable and it is inexcusable.  Every single human on this planet deserves to be treated with respect.  No one should ever be made to feel they are unimportant and unworthy and this is what we do when we refuse to SEE each other.

Stereotyping isn’t a substitute for facts.  Think about all the times people have said things about you.  Were the comments based on fact or based on assumptions?  How did it make you feel?

Think about a time when you’ve stereotyped someone.  Were your thoughts, comments or actions based in fact or did you jump to a conclusion?  Did you get to know the individual you stereotyped?  Did it change your opinion?

Consider what causes you to stereotype.  Are you influenced by media?  Friends?  Work on removing biases and prejudices and gathering facts before making a decision.

Adopt a bit of logic and give a person a chance to prove themselves before putting a label on him or her.  Give each person the respect they deserve by letting him or her define themselves.  Don’t do it for them.  Do you want someone else to define you?

See, the bottom line here is we are all humans, we’re unique, we’re individuals.  We have the ability to be kind to one another.  We have the ability to love one another.  We also have the ability to respect one another.  It’s not as simple as slapping labels on people just because that makes life easier.  It is a matter of truly reaching out to one another and getting to know a person for who he or she really is.  Dee-Dee is correct in saying, “the spirit of one another is made from love.”  We need to SEE with our HEARTS, not our heads.

So, having said all that I’m going to challenge myself and you, as well.  The next time you want to jump to a conclusion and put a label on someone, THINK before you judge.

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