Saturday, 10 March 2012

Labels, who needs them?

We as humans have the need to put a label on anything and every thing we see. Labels on cans on bottles we even have technology that makes labels so we can stick them on various objects. Now that's all fine and well if you are a hoarder or a neat freak and you need to make sure that every thing goes to its own pre-allocated space. But why is it that we put labels on our selves and other people? And no i am not referring to the labels on clothing.

Some one does well in science or math and we call them geeks, someone likes to do things on computers and we call them nerds. A well build good looking man is good at sports, he gets called a jock. Someone is different and we call them freaks. If a man is not butch enough (another label) we call him a fairy, a moffie (afrikaans word for gay) or a poofter. When a young woman in not build to the standards that we as a society made up she gets called a dyke or tom boy. Those are just a small example of the many words out there that we use to describe someone that we see as different. But why do we do it?

There is a saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Most of us remember this childhood saying as a rebuke against name-calling bullies. It seemed to work at that time, but in reality, the saying is wrong. Words can and inflict more pain than the biggest stick or the heaviest stone could ever cause. Cursing, mocking, blaming, insulting…we all know that this simple method of just saying a few well chosen words can manipulate and hurt people in ways we can't even imagine.

Words do hurt us...always.
What we say, how we say it, what we mean by it, does affect us and other people. Words have energy and power. Words can heal or maim; comfort or kill.

A discussion came up between a few friends lately about the gay community calling our selves gay, queer, dyke, tranny, femm and a few other words that i cant remember now. The argument made was if we call our selves that then why do we get offended when a straight man or women call us that. That got me thinking, when is it ok to call someone queer, femm, tranny, dyke, lesbo and my mind the answer is easy...its never ok to call someone that. I also said that in the majority of the situations where a straight guy calls a gay man, a moffie or a fairy its never intended as a joke, in basically every case its used as a word to hurt and to embarrass the person in question.

Why do we need to have labels, is it so that we can fit into a neat little social box that society made up?
A label is much more than just a word, it also puts you into a social bracket, a bracket that determends who is acceptable and who not. People seem to forget that calling someone a humiliating name not only belittles that person but it can do serious damage to someone that is already dealing with depression. It takes just one word to do irreversible damage, do you want to have the death of another person on your hands?

Most of us just laugh it off, but for some people name calling and labelling can lead to suicide, bullying is all about making someone feel bad, humiliation and making them feel like less than human and it is usually achieved by calling people names.

We have to understand that anything we say is like a mirror to our soul. A person who is negative will say cold, critical, hopeless, fault finding words. A person who is positive will say warm, open, optimistic, forgiving words.

What comes out of our mouths originates from our hearts. Some people are consistently nice, some consistently nasty, but most of us are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
We can all say nice things from time to time, but given the right situation, all manner of ugliness can pour out of us.

How many of us say pleasant words one day, but spew flames after 20 minutes in a traffic jam? Or how many of us are funny and good-natured with our co-workers, but become nagging, degrading monsters to our family members in the privacy of our own homes. And how many of us talk differently to people at work or school than to those whom we see at church? Will the real person please stand up!

And if nastiness is coming out of our mouths, then we need to dig deeper to find out why we can so easily tear someone to shreds in a second.

Next time before you call someone a name that you think might be funny, take a moment and think how that might impact someone else, if you are doing it because your "friends" will think its funny, then maybe you need new friends. Think about what you are about to say, don't just hurt someone because you feel like it.


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