You know what really grinds my gears?
When I was younger, I remember constantly hearing people calling themselves Democrats and Republicans and Christians and Atheists, and I quickly learned that you weren’t allowed to belong to two opposing groups. You either believed in God, or you didn’t. You either hated George Bush or thought he was the greatest guy in the world; there was no “in-between.” And if you were in the gray area, you were considered a push over with no opinions of your own.
As I grew older, I felt the pressure of having to belong to one of these groups. All throughout middle school and high school, we constantly took quizzes to determine where we were on the political spectrum and I always fell somewhere in the middle. When the subject of abortion would arise and I would tell others that that I am pro-choice, they would instantly call me out for being a “bad” Catholic. I don’t understand why we are taught that we need to belong to a certain group and label ourselves as one thing or another. Why is it so important to put a title on our beliefs?
Last semester, I read The Picture of Dorian Gray for one of my classes and the following passage strongly stood out to me:
“What of art?” she asked.
“It is a malady.”
“The fashionable substitute for belief.”
“You are a skeptic.”
“Never! Skepticism is the beginning of faith.”
“What are you?”
“To define is to limit.”
I really like the last line because it summarizes what I believe: defining yourself with all these different labels limits who you are. Think about it. If you say you’re a Republican, you have to hate Obama. If you call yourself a Christian but believe that the earth is older than 6,000 years, you’re going to Hell (…according to Ken Ham). It’s ridiculous. Labels are what create the division in this world and cause so many of the problems we have going on now (George Washington knew this, which was why he opposed the creation and separation of political parties…which everyone ignored.) Right now, Congress isn’t even getting much done because Republicans are always voting against everything Obama suggests simply because they would rather be dead than agree with a Democrat (not really, but you know what I mean).
Putting labels on ourselves closes our minds to other ideas. If you say you belong to a certain political party or religion, you have to abide to their beliefs or you are called out on it. This is where issues begin to arise because people will often act on their beliefs rather than act on their morals. For example, gay marriage and women’s rights are a couple of topics that create issues in our society because it is not “religiously tolerated.” Evolution is a touchy subject to study in school because it goes against the bible. People are becoming ignorant simply because they would rather follow the beliefs of whatever group they belong to rather than morally decide between what’s right and what causes harm and injustice to others.
Instead of letting politics and religion tell us what we have to believe in and what we have to do, we need to make those decisions based on what we know is right and wrong. We need to think rationally and be able to find solutions to our problems using our conscience and morals rather than limiting our options because of whatever our political party or religion tells us to believe. Belonging to groups or having labels do absolutely nothing except create division and separation among us.