Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Labels and Understanding

Thoughts from an orthodontist office: 

I've observed an inordinate amount of division in culture and churches lately. People generously grant labels to others who don't think, speak, and act like them. Søren Kierkegaard wrote: "Once you label me you negate me." He was correct. Words like progressive and evangelical; boomer and millennial; liberal and conservative; black and white; socialist and capitalist--they negate and all fall short of describing a person who is way too complex to be defined by only a few words. The labels promote division and not unity or solidarity. The labels usually have more to do with the one giving the label than the one receiving the label. Communication seems to be more about defining who is correct and who is wrong--which, in the grand scheme of things, are just two more unhelpful labels. So I'm guessing things would be a lot different in our culture and in our churches if we stopped labeling others and started listening for the purpose of understanding and not responding. A world with fewer labels and more understanding would be pretty cool.

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