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The Choice Not to Label People

Many of us operate as “people labeling machines” drawing vast conclusions about people based on how they look, how they talk, or how they believe. We often overlook our own unique characteristics, but are quick to “classify and criticize” those who are different from us. We tend to mentally place people in groups, and then – mistakenly – consider that person to be “like all the others.” 

One of our biggest labels is ethnicity…Caucasian, African-American, Jewish, Hispanic and on it goes…whatever our opinion of the group, our initial opinion of a person tracks the same way. Religious groups are another big delineating factor for us…we don’t fully understand our own religion, yet we will “doom someone to hell” just because they don’t believe as we do. Oh yes, “who someone is” sexually…we have special little sarcastic words for those groups. And, political groupings…liberal, conservative, independent…something’s wrong with you if you don’t see the role of government as I do. 

It’s amazing when you stop and think about it…we can form an almost complete opinion about someone based on these labels, having never met the individual or talked with them face to face. We seem to agree with this age-old teaching – “judge not that you be not judged” – but do we live our lives that way?

Well, it’s time that we put our labeling machines away. It’s time that we make the choice to look at people as unique individuals capable of doing, loving, caring, wanting, and working…just like you and I do.

Henry James, an American writer, said that only three things in human life are important…to be kind, to be kind and to be kind. So, let’s quit judging people based on labels. Let’s work to be a kind person ourselves…and then form our opinion of others based simply on whether they are kind, or not.

There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. Denis Waitley