Labeling

Today, someone asked me if I minded if others perceive me as something I do not believe myself to be. And my answer to him was roughly, “No, not at all.”

I may have stumped this person, or perhaps he understood. I’m not sure. But it started me thinking about why I don’t mind it and what that means.

I used to care greatly about what others thought of me. And to some degree, I still battle caring, but since I’ve consciously tried to eliminate minding what others’ think or perceive about me, it’s relatively minuscule. I realized I accomplished a goal I set out for, and it made me happy.

But as a filmmaker and student of human behavior, I started thinking about why some others choose to label me. Is it because I agree and/or disagree with some things a collective does or doesn’t? Is it to make themselves feel better, in particular about disliking or liking me? And if I were to say something such as, I believe man should be kind to thy neighbor, does that automatically make me a Christian dogmatic soul? It may seem ridiculous to think so, but my experience has shown me that some others like to label people and will do just this. Well… not one to defend myself other than by doing my best to be honest about who I am, I figure if one wants to know me, they should watch the way I act and treat others and myself. That’s really all there is to it. Don’t true individuals belong to a party of one? I suppose if others feel the need to “label” me, so be it. That’s their problem, not mine.

I was talking to my father, a very smart man, about how I’ve noticed some people who don’t like my beliefs or agree with them choose to get personal and go into “attack” mode, so I asked him why he thought this was. And his response to me was, “Because their own position is weak.” I believe this brings up an important point. He asked the question that if one wants to truly discuss an issue or feels different about an issue with the one they are discussing it with, what would be the need to attack and get personal if they believed their own point was strong? Wouldn’t they be confident enough to let their beliefs do the arguing and want to learn why the other person thought differently? But when one’s position is weak, getting personal or attacking makes sense. If this is the case, however, a choice is needed to be made. Personally, I choose to stop the discussion when one has disrespect by choosing to use expletives, attack or get personal because that is no longer an intelligent discussion. Yes, you may be called many things for doing this, but really, it only strengthens your stance. And though this seems to anger some even more… as my father noted, it’s interesting what it says about them.

Time is valuable.

It’s comical that some others speak of tolerance and yet are intolerant if you disagree with them. It’s mind-boggling that some others try to label you into a nicely organized category rather than just look at the very person you are, what you do and how you deal with them and yourself. It’s unfortunate that a defensive mode is often the choice, leading what could be an honest discussion into becoming a crude emotional pontificating mess. It’s difficult to stand up for what you believe when others try to knock you down, but it’s this difficulty that makes your beliefs stronger.

If you ever find yourself wanting to place a label on someone, as the beautiful film, American Beauty, noted, “Look closer” – things may not be as you thought they were from a distance…

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