If I Think about it… I might not exist at all.
There is a War on Meaning in the country and it starts with Names, which are simply tools for understanding.
If you have read anything I’ve written In the past you might already suspect I will not be found having lunch with the “No Labels” crowd. In fact, I believe Labels are an extremely important part of conceptualization and our ability to communicate complex ideas to each other. If I can tell you I drove to work in my CAR, without having to explain the complexities of the internal combustion engine, and you understand what I’m talking about we have both saved a lot of time… my time telling you how I got to work, and yours trying to figure out how to walk away.
The same concept is used when Identifying yourself to others, and more importantly when speaking of others being able to Identify Them.. The reason we do this is to save a million unnecessary words while communicating a thought or idea.
Makes sense right? With me so far?
In fact, Labels are so important that our ability to apply them in the process of comprehending complex concepts is the only behavior separating us from the rest of the Animal Kingdom.
It makes us special… right up until we go to government school. Then only some of us survive being told there is nothing special about us vs. the Silvery Minnow, Spotted Owl, Red Algae, etc..
Let me share some examples of the Destruction of Meaning I’m talking about here;
I feel drugs should be legal but Capitalism is Evil! – I am a Libertarian, because I Say So.
I Hate those people because of what they are saying! – I am Open Minded, because I Say So.
I feel those Anti-Abortion people should be thrown in jail! – I am Tolerant, because I Say So.
I feel other people, not me, can’t be trusted to make the decisions I feel are right! – I am Smart, because I Say So.
I’m a Progressive Liberal, but calling me a Socialist is ridiculous! – I am Enlightened, because I Say So.
Communism and Socialism are Completely Different! – I am Educated, because I Say So.
I get my news from the Daily Show! – I am Informed, because I Say So.
News Outlets that don’t seem to agree with my point of view should be forced to say things I feel are true! – I support the First Amendment, because I Say So.
I feel some new restrictions on the Second Amendment, First Amendment and Fourth Amendment by the courts is a good idea! – I am a Constitutional Conservative Republican, because I, John McCain, Say So.
I feel we should all have equal rights as individuals without government interference in our lives! – I am a Democrat, only because I Say So… and my friends are… and I vote for Democrats… because it’s cool… right?
We can call ourselves anything we want… but it doesn’t make it so. We don’t get to change the meaning of the labels… even though there are many, many people who try.
The problem is poor thinking, and labels with the meaning destroyed, leads us to do stupid (non-reasoned, irrational) things. But we prefer the Label we think makes us “look good” among our peers. Our social network is so important to us that we will not do anything to risk losing it. So we try to assign our own, “new”, definition to a Label which already means something. This is the War I’m talking about. (If you haven’t read any Eric Hoffer, do yourself a favor. Amazon is a few key strokes away.)
Pro-Choice Catholics come to mind. Tolerant Leftists and Scientists who believe in Consensus follow closely behind… I’m sure you can think of many more examples I’m leaving out.
All I’m suggesting is we spend a considerable chunk of time thinking about what we think. Then, we should be honest enough to admit where we fit in regardless of how it might offend our parents and friends. This will also allow us to identify those who commit the crime of Murdering Meaning. It’s a little scary at first, because Serial Meaning Murderers are everywhere.
One of my favorite philosophers once stated “A = A”. Her point was; The Truth is The Truth. This might surprise a number of Public School educators out there, but “2+2” cannot equal “5” no matter how hard the student tries, or wants, to make it so. What we believe to be the truth can be, and often is, wrong. The Universe simply doesn’t care about one’s self-esteem. And, I feel that’s Mean. Mean Universe! Mean!
I believe that I’m a Brilliant and worthy of praise by all…
I also believe I’m Sober most of the time… a Nice guy… Rich… Young… Good-Looking…