Recently, I had a business meeting with a person who happens to be my friend. The conversation turned to people acting one way in their professional or work life and another way at home or with friends and family.
Both of us immediately agreed that you are who you are, and you can’t be a certain type of person at work and another kind of person at home, although there are those who play “bad cop-good cop” and think it is perfectly acceptable.
Although my friend and I are from different backgrounds and upbringings, share different political and religious beliefs, and I’m old enough to be his mother, I wasn’t surprised that we agreed. Despite what for many could be insurmountable barriers, we have always had productive discussions, remained friends and never had a disagreement about our philosophy or beliefs.
After our meeting, I began to think about this friendship, which some might say shouldn’t exist. The fact that we have remained friends for a long period of time has to have something to do with our personalities, or perhaps how our brains are wired or maybe their chemistry. Or maybe it has something to do with labels.
So, I began to think a little more. I never knew my friend’s religion or political persuasion until a couple of years ago, and when I learned them, that didn’t change my feelings about him. I concluded that our labels didn’t make any difference to either of us when it came to working together, but perhaps labels have a part to play in whether people are civil to each other, respect each other and are able to work together.
I’m thinking maybe we should eliminate labels. No more labels relating to nationality, religion, political affiliation or gender. No more labels on people that point to differences.
Maybe we could have a rule that you are a human being and from this day forward, there is no male, female, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender or bisexual labels. No labels, no difference. No box to put people into. Everyone is a human being: the end. You love whomever you love. Marriage is between two human beings. A family has two human beings responsible for the welfare of that family. A human’s only label is a name.
If humans were not labeled by their nationality, there would be no borders or territories to fight and kill each other over. See what just happened? Middle East disputes? Gone. Russian and Ukrainian fighting? Over. Displaced refugees? No such thing.
You want to say that all disputes are far more complex and that simply removing a country’s label and calling everyone a human being won’t and can’t work. Certain nationalities have been feuding or fighting for centuries. This killing is necessary to preserve culture and heritage. Besides, everyone knows certain nationalities are better than others and deserve to be preserved.
Those lesser nationalities aren’t worth sustaining. Those folks who practice a religion different from whatever the “good” religion is don’t merit consideration or respect.
I can hear it now: We have to preserve the principles our forefathers fought and died for. If every nationality believes that, and I believe each nationality believes just that, we have something in common.
The clans, tribes, nations and religions that originally gave themselves labels said they were the best, the most powerful, the strongest. They forgot that all people are human beings first. They forgot that everyone wants to care for their family and have a place to live and see their children and grandchildren grow up.
These “label makers” thought because they were able to conquer and enslave others, they were the best. They were the best, all right. They were the best at killing and creating misery. They kept it up as long as they possibly could. These “label makers” continue to inflict pain and suffering.
Although the labels are firmly entrenched throughout the world and there’s probably no going back, ignoring labels, which can be done, could lead us to what everyone is seeking.
Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-347-9924.