A Saturday Afternoon Reflection...


I've been reading Blind Spots: When Smart People Do Dumb Things and found the following excerpt quite thought-provoking:

"How different (children's) experiences would be if we went beyond simply accepting our differences and instead genuinely valued them. Imagine growing up in a family - or living in a world - in which everyone accepted matter-of-factly that we all have different gifts, that we are fascinated by different bodies of knowledge and drawn to developing different skills.  How altered our experience would be if our differences were not viewed as signs that we must be flawed or stupid." (p. 68)

In this book there is a section titled "Labels Create Children Who Feel 'Stupid'". I think it is human nature to try and categorize, label, understand people/places/things. We all want to make sense of this world we live in. The problem with this is that our attempts to make sense of the world around us leads us to categorize, organize, label people/places/things based soley on our own experiences at any given time. This leads to assumptions and generalizations that are often inaccurate and not fully informed.

Consider this excerpt from www.personal-development.com (I have bolded some portions for emphasis):

"One of the most common terms used by young people to describe others is "loser." That’s not a description, it’s a label. Some examples of the countless other labels we freely use to ‘describe’ others include fundamentalist, delusional, perfectionist, idealist, realist, extremist, terrorist, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, pessimist, pacifist, narcissistic, optimist, racist, liberal, homophobe, jerk, stupid, pro-life, pro-choice, two-bit punk, and loud-mouth.

The problem with labels is they are merely shells that contain assumptions. When we are taken in by a label, we are taken in by opinions and beliefs. That is, we willingly accept statements without evidence of their validity. The assumptions become stereotypes, which soon become put-downs. Before you know it, we are engaged in name-calling or verbal abuse.

People are complex, multifaceted, and multidimensional. When we apply labels to them, we put on blinders and see only a narrow view of an expansive and complicated human being. Did you ever buy a plastic container or bottle of food at the super market with a huge label on the lid and sides that prevented you from seeing the contents? That’s what the labels we use to ‘describe’ people do, they obscure the contents of the individual."

TBA Readers: Let me know your thoughts?


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