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Labels do not advance the conversation

Labels are intellectually lazy and divisive. Someone isn’t a “socialist” for wanting Medicare for All. Another isn’t a “Wall Street hack” for asking how to pay for it. She isn’t “shrill” for asking tough questions. He isn’t “bland” for heartland values. Come on, people. Grow up.

It is human nature to categorize things. It is a shortcut.  It is one of the first things a human learns.  This is a “toy”, this is a “dog”, that is “food” It allows us quick identification of objects so we can determine if the object is safe  vs. dangerous.  It serves us well in making sense of the vast universe of things.

Labels are often used to categorize people. Male, female, black, white, liberal, conservative, aggressive, passive.  Labels are often binary, mutually exclusive.  There is no in between.  If we can quickly put a label on someone we determine if that person is worth our attention and consideration.  It is used to discount the experience and beliefs of another.  We can then put people in a “us” vs. “them” category.

Yes, this is human nature to be wary of the other and served us well in the very distant past.  But it is time to move past the limitations of our primitive brain and use the large part of our brain that is capable of rationality and cooperation.  Our “tribe” does not consist of only those who look like us, talk like us, believe like us, think like us.  Our tribe is all of the humans sharing this planet and the future of our planet depends upon our being able to move past all the labels that divide us.