Divide And Label

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Labels are strange, yet absolutely necessary. It’s impossible to love writing and hate labels. What are words if not labels? What’s strange is that perhaps we as a society have grown a little too fond of attaching ourselves to labels.

From all the million genres of music, to politics, and beyond, we are fascinated by labels. And in addition we are fascinated in having labels that conflict with one another. Republican, Democrat, Feminist, Men’s Rights etc. Is all of it necessary?

Maybe, maybe not. Truthfully no matter how unique an individual is in thoughts, beliefs, and everything else that makes us human, there will be a handful of labels that define them. There’s nothing wrong with this concept. Where labels get hairy is when people conform themselves to fit an idea, rather than the idea already fitting them.

Anyone can pick any “ism” , or any philosophy out there and bash it. So there won’t be any discussion of one individual entity here. Rather than discussing a specific idea, what is of interest are the rules, and guidelines for every label,  and how the individuals in these groups enforce them. What comes to my  mind is the the short film, The Wave. What happens in The Wave, to my recollection, is that a classroom is divided into a class-system, and the top tier must enforce the crazy rules which the teacher creates. Of course, this creates divisiveness, chaos and a huge power struggle.

If you’re not Republican, or Democratic, or a Feminist, or a Hardcore Gamer, or a plethora of other things, that is an excuse for many people in the aforementioned groups to be condescending. In reality, if we were all to be completely honest with ourselves and one another, each of us would likely be a combination of contradictory viewpoints. All of us may be somewhat capitalistic, with some socialistic views. Or some of us may be a combination of Christian and Muslim viewpoints.

After writing the last few paragraphs, and thinking for a bit, it made me realize that the need to feel wanted may be a big part of grouping. And what also occurred to me, is that those of us whom are labeled with having extreme, or radical viewpoints are often the people who most desire the feeling of love.  There isn’t some obvious answer to our love of groups, and our urges to be desired. After all, those are just human necessities. Ironically, in a country that preaches individualism, we may have forgotten to believe in ourselves, and stand up for our own convictions rather than copy someone else’s. Would we be worse off for admitting that our core belief systems are patchworks, rather than unique standalone ideas?

The Hunt For Meaning

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Based on every trip to a bookstore, and based on how popular spirituality is, it seems that many of us in the United Stated hunt for meaning. Growing up here, the endeavor to find meaning seems like a necessary rite of passage. Realistically, this is why numerous cults recruit their members at college campuses. So many young people are searching for something to believe, that college is perfectly fertile ground.

Relax, this isn’t about cults or anything. It’s more about our strange obesession with finding meaning. One has to wonder whether this exists as strongly elsewhere, as it does here in the United States, but it seems to me that it does. Every culture has a few prominent religions. In the United States however, there are mass quantities of  spirituality books, religious texts, and religions. Some people, it seems to me, are addicted to the hunt for meaning.

Maybe it’s a bit of irony as this blog can come across as a spiritual blog, but at some point the hunt for meaning has to stop, right? How can you try every belief that is out there and not stop eventually? Even if you couldn’t find one particular belief system, wouldn’t it be more productive at some point to create a collage? A bit of Buddhism, a touch of Christianity, maybe some Hindu.

Part of the problem with spirituality, is that it’s  often used to mask a hole in a person’s life. Maybe an ex-lover that you can’t quite get over. Maybe a career path that didn’t quite pan out. Who knows.

This isn’t to say that everyone should blindly pick a system and stick to it. Giving thought to one’s own beliefs are important. Just try not to end in a weird loop where you are switching out spiritualities like they’re worn out socks. We all have to live by some code after all. Maybe there won’t be much meaning to the code, but what’s important are the actions based off of the code.