Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Segregation of Edward D

I was in the grocery looking at labels; specifically, honey.
There were labels with images of little bears, little bees, sun flowers, Grandma's home baked biscuits, wooden honey dippers and a plethora of honeycombs. All had some variation of a delightful golden yellow label. Next to the honey were shelves of berry jams and on the other side were still more shelves of peanut butter. Each had labels designed to make them stand out from the crowd. After a while, the plethora of labels for one product becomes mind numbing and they all begin to look the same.
There were so many standing out from the crowd they had formed a new crowd.
Humans have an innate need (compulsion?) to label everything. It's not just a tree... it's a maple tree. And it's not just a maple tree, but a sugar maple tree.
We tend to label ourselves as well. I am this... I am that. What we really mean, in a backhanded, passive way, is I am not something else. For instance, I am male and, therefore, not female. The presumption being that I will understand male things and not female things. (Go with that wherever the hell you want... not my circus.)
I am North American. Therefore, I cannot be anything other than North American. The population of North America is approximately 480 million people (Canada, Mexico and the United States). Since the world population is 7.33 billion, I've immediately separated myself from 6.85 billion other folks on the planet because I am not, suddenly, whatever they are.
And I only had to use one label.
If I go further and state that I am Canadian, I bounce another 445 million people off my “like me” list. Now I am the same as 0.5 percent of the world's population. Then again, I am male so the percentage drops to 0.25 percent. I was born in Sault Ste Marie and we all know Northern Ontario folks are separate and distinct from everyone else, thus the Monty Python Lumberjack Song. So now I am separated from 99.9995 percent of the planet's population.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
If I drill down far enough, I will eventually separate myself from every other human in the world. And it is not that difficult a task. Aside from places I've lived or where I was born, the next step is to use more personal things like hair colour, eye colour, skin colour, religious belief, sexual preference, IQ, EQ, hobbies, eating habits and on and on. In the end, I will become what is true for me and everyone else on the planet... unique.
But is that really true? Am I really so unique?
My uniqueness (quirky as it may be) brings me to the stunning conclusion we are all unique... which makes me no more unique than anyone else. In our labeling (attempting to stand out from the crowd), we all become the same... standing out on our own. In our uniqueness, we are the same... human.
The more I label myself into a corner, the more I separate myself from everyone else. And I wonder, sometimes, if it is nothing more than a convenient excuse. “I am this way because of... blah, blah, blah.” Or worse, it's an excuse for tyrannical behaviour. “They aren't the same as me because of... blah, blah, blah... so I'll treat them with less respect.”
The latter makes me physically ill.
My thought is this... until we stop labeling people and start treating each other respectfully as equals, none of this societal rendering goes away. None of the tyranny stops until we understand we are all nothing.
*** Atoms are made of light waves which are essentially nothing and from which we are all made which means we are all nothing and you can't be better than someone else if you are both nothing and you can't be worse than someone else if you are both nothing which means you must both be equal regardless of what we deem as physical appearance or emotional make up or what we choose or how we feel because we are all nothing. Whew! Talk about run on sentences! ***
If I continue to label myself, I'm only creating reasons to distance my self from those who are not of my label. I just can't get my head or my heart around that thought. 
I can't seem to distance myself from others because of a fictitious label. Perhaps there is a label for that.
As for the jars of honey, I picked a mid price point with a cute label inclusive of bees and went home with it. I'm pretty happy with my choice.