Labels – More Of A Guideline

I don’t like labels.
I don’t like labels a lot.
You could say, I hate them.
I don’t advertise brand names on my clothes. I’m not anyone’s free publicity machine.
And as for clothes’ size labels? One shop’s size ten is another’s twelve.
Labels are a gimmick. Or a guideline.

Except, last week I bought a pair of blue suede Doc Marten’s and I love them. But, they have a label tag at the back for getting them on. And it sports the brand name.
Choice. Keep them? Or not? Well, they are lovely. And they’ll be really hard-wearing. I’ll get my money’s worth from them. And they’ll be great in bad weather. And, did I say, they’re lovely?
So I’m keeping them.
I redid my political compass the other day too.
Just in case anything had changed with me.
You know, there’s been a lot of changes going on and my mind’s been all over the place trying to assimilate the meaning of it all.
But no change.
I’m still a liberal leftie.
Nearly off the chart, as it happens.
I seem to have become more liberal as I’ve gotten older. More accepting of the diversity of people and the many permutations that that diversity casts up in life.
Do I like that label?
Not really.
Labels are a gimmick. Or a guideline.
I’m a something. The label attempts to describe that something.
It also puts me in a box.
Fascism puts people in a box too.
If the label fits.
I haven’t liked seeing that word being thrown around recently. It’s a word that belongs in the history books and to be ever aware of – lest we forget. It’s a word with such potential for destruction. Potential for division. And should not be used lightly. It has been used to describe many different people and the choices they have made, based, at times, purely on a vote.
We’re a bit more complicated than that.
Usually.
The many different reasons why we feel, believe, act in one way or another. The circumstances surrounding the reasons. The upbringing. The input from other people, our experiences. The cruelty we have known. The kindnesses we have been shown. The sum total of our lives helping to determine how or why we will act in any given circumstances.
Being the person I am – my liberal leftie leaning ways – I tend to try to understand why people do and say the things they do. Try to make allowances for mitigating circumstances. Some might say a bleeding-heart leftie. And there may very well be justification for them saying so.
Perhaps I tolerate things that I ought not to, in the name of, ‘What if that were me? There for the grace of god.’ And so on.
Perhaps I should have zero tolerance for the children I teach who are the product of their upbringing, of the society in which they live. Or the one they have left. Perhaps I should not try to understand what makes them tick. Or help them overcome the barriers to achieving their fullest potential and development. Perhaps I should refuse to teach any rude ones. The violent ones. The persistent latecomers. Those whose absences run into double figures every term. Those whose parents never attend a parents’ evening, don’t help them with homework, feed them rubbish, don’t provide them with clean clothes or a healthy environment. Those who feed their addiction before their children. Perhaps I should punish the children. Blame them. Cast them from my sight so that I might better focus on the ones who have more of a chance.
But I won’t.
Perhaps because I’m a liberal leftie.
Or perhaps because, with a bit of effort on my part, some love and understanding, the right methodology, guidance and determination, loads of humour, some hugs when required, I might just make a difference. Perhaps they might remember that someone cared and they might do the same for someone else. And the world may turn on a happier axis.
Perhaps not.
I probably will never know.
It’s rare to get feedback at a later date.
I just have to believe that I’m doing the right thing.
But the belief is based on what I know of children. What I know of people. I was one. I am one.
How difficult is it to imagine how you would like to be treated then do accordingly to others?
Why is that so difficult for some? For many people, it seems. For so many in positions of power. And now, it would seem, even from those who are, and will continue to be, in need of the same tolerance and understanding.
Some of those who have shouted loudest in support of cruelty and have ‘othered’ factions of society, based on a label, are some of the most needy there are. Their needs are economic. They need work. They need to earn. They need the sense of pride that comes with being self-supporting. They need out of the spiral of fear. They need to feel security. They need to feel a sense of society and growth. They need to feel a sense of worth. They need to believe they are here for a reason. They need to have hope. And these needs have not been met.
They have been termed the forgotten citizens. And they have spoken. They spoke in the UK. Brexit. They spoke in the USA. Trump.
Will they speak in France too? In other countries in Europe and around the world where global economic policies and politicians have let them down?
And when they speak or shout their disaffection of the status quo, who will be their saviour? Who will step into the breach? The man or woman on the corner who feels the same? Not likely.
Or one for whom the power of change holds possibilities for themselves and a cohort that have waited their time?
And what shall we call them? What label apply to those who will not tolerate the other? Who will not mitigate for poverty or cruelty? Who will not thole the stranger? Who would diminish the human rights of others? Who seek superiority? Who believe themselves superior? Who would not do unto others as they would have done to themselves? Who walk the walk that has been walked and rejected before? Before we forgot to remember.
What label shall we apply to the box that has been opened wide?
And if the rise of ‘neo-nazi’, ‘alt-right’, ‘fascist’ refuses to return to its box, what then for those who cried, ‘Help’? Will they know tolerance from their leaders when they are in further need? Will they later fall victim to a rule that encompasses some aspect of their beings? Will anyone mitigate for them when the time comes? And it comes to us all.
Among the voices that spoke there are many others whose raison d’etre is being realised and is making them brave as all cowards are brave. As part of a crowd. A crowd that becomes mob in its voice and actions. A movement that shouts down opposition to intolerance. Ones who have waited the opportune time. Ones who have embraced their label secretly. Until now.
How shall we know the measure of their cloth? By the label? By its size when it fits? By the uniform it once wore? If the cloth does not maketh the man, his actions do. He or she. Labelled or not.
I’m a liberal leftie by nature. By actions. By experience. By label, so it seems.
But, tolerating the intolerable, I will not do.
That would be off the chart.
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30 thoughts on “Labels – More Of A Guideline”

    1. There are those who are being called, ‘fascist’ on social media, in newspaper commentary and replying, ‘what of it?’ As if it is now a badge of honour, the results of recent events vindicating the name and actions that would accompany the label, giving rise to who knows what is to follow? Worrying times all over, Leslie. It is heartbreaking. I could barely watch the Remembrance Day parade for thinking the whole time that we do them no honour. We have not remembered enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Brilliantly written momus, a poke in those many eyes that need to see. And that is the crux of it all…
    They need to ‘see’ themselves in others…for only then can change begin 😀
    Even over here in Aussie-land the local state guys were poking their noses into ‘how’ we live instead of running the country…a safe seat for 88 years just got thrown out on its ear.
    It was a warning shot across the bow…the silent majority had put up with a constant drivel for so long, but now the dragon has woken, and they began by sacking their boss and shuffling many all over the place, but that is just to hide 🙂
    The energy is beginning to shift, even though I’m afraid to say it will get a bit narky, simply because they are ironed on from many years of doing it a certain way, and change needs to break those to bring in what is needed. All change requires sacrifice, release of the old to make way for the new. I just hope they do it quietly 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t think it will be quiet, Mark. And I think it will be painful, the sacrifices human, one way or another. We truly are blind if we think that we can relieve our own pain at the expense of another’s. Not until we feel the pain another feels will there be real change. And we may not have to wait too long for that. We are fools.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Very, very true momus. They isolate themselves from ‘our’ life and in the end, don’t even care, as long as it lines their pockets.
        As for the pain, it won’t be easy…but hopefully begin a light at the end of a long, long tunnel we have been travelling 🙂

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  2. BRILLIANT!!!!! Absolutely spot on about the world we appear to live in now…………for the last 30 years I’ve been blaming Thatcher for the selfish greedy uncaring society that we appear to live in now. But the Americans have taken this to a whole new level with the election of Trump. You would enjoy reading Tammy Mezera’s blog, her latest post is not at all dissimilar to your excellent one, it can be found at
    https://tammymezera.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/power-of-one/
    From one leftie liberal to another, please keep up this brilliant work 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Like you, I’ve blamed Thatcher. I’ve blamed politicians the length and breadth of history and the world. Their need to control, their need for power over others. I’ve blamed corporations and the driving force of greed over humanity. The exceptions in politics are too soon dead or thwarted. If change is what we need – and I believe we do – I don’t want more of the same. They may shuffle the names, swap the faces but that is no change. Our lives are their game, our efforts their reward. We, the hirelings to systems of governance the world over that shit on our little lives. Unimportant, dispensable, a number. And we let them. We keep letting the same types float to the top like scum on a pond. I’m sick of the lot of them. Sick of us too that we nod and complain but let it go on. And Trump is the answer? I mean, really?! I can’t even list what’s wrong with that. May? I could weep.
      I’m not without hope and I’m fighting to have it realised. Not giving up, not giving in.
      I’ll now pop over to your link and hope further to read that many others are not either.
      Thank you for your words. It’s encouraging to know that there are others who will not stand by. Truly, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right about the desperate need for change, the trouble is that in general terms, us liberal lefties tend not to want power, and all the trappings that go with a position of power……………….which obviously leaves the way open for the greedier and more selfish people to rise to the top, whether that’s in politics or in business 😦
        I was wondering if your reference to politicians who are good dying to soon, was about John Smith, I still say he would have been one of the best Prime Ministers Britain would have ever had!
        I get the impression, that even in Scotland, which appears on the outside to be far more socialist than England, that many politicians/councillors are in it for the money and power, rather than the good they can do for the community as a whole. I loved the bit in your post about helping disadvantaged kids, they didn’t ask to be born into the position they’ve ended up in, by helping and encouraging them at school, even if you only change the path for one of those kids, that’s better work than many politicians do in a whole lifetime 🙂
        We are certainly living in sad times, when as you say, May and Trump are the leaders, I thought that the Reagan/Thatcher duet was bad enough, but the next 4 years are set to be even worse! 😦
        To end on a positive note, I think with the help of social media, all of us who think on similar terms can now communicate with one another. And maybe, we will find another John Smith, or even a Dennis Skinner. Before the internet, we would all be sitting fuming in our own little corners, not knowing that there’s hundreds of thousands of other people out there, also sitting fuming in their own little corners of the world.

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      2. Millionaires who pass austerity measures that will never hurt them, while saying, ‘We all have to make sacrifices’. ‘We’ meaning ‘some’.
        Making laws that, let’s face it, only some are bound by.
        Sanctioning people for falling victim to policies made by them.
        Diminishing the public services that we depend on while they don’t have to.
        Squandering the wealth of nations; the natural resources, people, their children and future.
        Funding wars. Revelling in the sale of arms.
        Failures in every way.
        Worst of all, perhaps, their non-commitment to the tenets of human rights and dignity. Lip service only when they can be undermined so easily by heartless rhetoric and policies that result in failure to thrive for so many.
        The level of the arrogance of many should preclude them from ever having anything to do with public office.
        It’s true what you say about not wanting power other than the power to exert control over your own life. Unfortunately, that does leave the way open for any who want power for other reasons.
        Those who enter politics to make a difference either seem to end up climbing the ladder and forgetting the view from the bottom or are thwarted at every turn by those seeking to maintain the status quo because it suits them for one reason or another.
        It’s probably unfair to say that all politicians are only in it for what they can get out of it. There have been some. There still are. John Smith was a fine man. I think Nicola Sturgeon is a good woman. Many of those whose roots are founded in social justice and fight for that are worthy of respect. But they are shouted down. I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon has much to personally gain from independence other than the satisfaction of knowing that she has helped Scotland gain its own voice to make its own choices. And we are generally more left. We just need the reins to be able to try to effect the social improvements that many want.
        Social media has been a boon in many ways in ensuring that we hear each other. The danger is that we only listen to those who reflect what we want to hear. We need dialogue. Some of what is written on social media bears no resemblance to that – is more of a licence to sling mud anonymously. But it is better than fuming on our own. I have learned much via social media, been guided to articles, books, blogs, made some great connections – and all over the world. It is amazing. Such a small world really. So many things in common. And yet so divided. But we keep on. If not for ourselves – and we do matter – then for all our children, the world over.

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      3. I shall reply more expansively later on ScottishMomus, but just wanted to quickly say how spot on you have it! And far more eloquently put than I could ever write 🙂 Especially the fact that we keep on fighting for a fairer world, not just for us, but more importantly for our kids and grandkids etc

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      4. Like you, I could go on and on about the injustices of the tory government, although I doubt I could be as succinct as you are 🙂
        And for that matter, it didn’t improve a great deal when ‘New’ Labour got in either…………..Tony Blair’s government did bring in minimum wage, which for many people working in Cornwall, that meant a doubling of their wages, but Blair certainly wasn’t a Socialist.
        I was very pleasantly surprised to hear you talk about what a good politician Nicola Sturgeon is, it appears to me that many labour (old school) supporters seem to be under the impression that the SNP are a right wing party……………..they are certainly far more Socialist in their principles and beliefs than the London based Labour party is!!!
        As far as I’m concerned, an independent Scotland is essential, as you said, millionaires down there haven’t a clue about life up here. At least if we get independence, those people in power will be much more accountable, and the Scottish method of voting is a much fairer system too!!!! 🙂
        You also hit the nail on the head when you talk about the levels of extreme arrogance of so many people who gain positions of power, these people should automatically excluded from anything that gives them the power to make decisions for the rest of us!!!!
        You’re right about the fact that not all politicians are in it for the money and power, there are a few who do it totally to help the community in which they serve, but unfortunately they are few and far between. Mhairi Black stands out as one such person, but she is still very young, hopefully she won’t change.
        The other main disadvantage of Social Media, and in particular, Facebook, is that often much of what people state as fact, is in fact rumour. My wife had no interest in politics before I moved from Cornwall to Scotland, but no she is a staunch SNP supporter……….. the only trouble is, she often quotes things from Facebook that are clearly not correct………….too many people are not willing, or maybe not capable, of searching out the facts before they broadcast themselves on the internet, and sometimes that can be quite detrimental to any cause 😦
        But back on the positive, I would not be able to read your wonderful work if it wasn’t for Social Media/blogging platforms, and for that I’m forever grateful 🙂

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    1. I really enjoyed this post, my dear!!! the children!! oh boy, you hit a nerve. Not just due to the work I do but a few nights ago I knocked on my upstairs neighbour’s door to ask her if she could try to control the jumping around at 1am or 2am as I had to get up early this morning and I only got 4 hours sleep due the noise. I tolerate (despite my migraines) it most of the time because I adore her little 3 year old but really?! why she cannot be a “parent”. She looked at her little guy and started to scold him and I told her to stop scolding him…it was not HIS fault. Then I get this defensive look and she challenges me with “So tell me, okay! tell me what I should do!” I did not…and asked if it was better if I texted her when I want her little guy to stop jumping past midnight and she stop her moving furniture at 2am. She agreed that would help.

      I like my neighbour and understand she is a young mother of 25, her husband works late often so she likes to go to bed late and putting her little guy on “her” schedule makes life easier. And basically, “that” may be the main problem.

      As for labels…I hate labels for mental health conditions…a diagnosis does not define a person and unfortunately too may people seem to use diagnoses as adjectives and verbs. Sorry for jabbering so much. x

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not jabbering at all, Oliana. She’s a silly woman that doesn’t want to get a three year-old down for the night and get her feet up, husband home or not. I used to love those precious hours when the kids were tucked up safely in bed and the time was my own. Now, they’re gallivanting and I’m tucked up. 😉

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  3. A powerful and wholly open piece which resonates clearly. Sadly, I feel, the very ones who should be taking note will, as ever, refuse to listen or simply gloss over your message. At work we are trying to engage our children in Global Goals: all well and good until you look a little deeper and realise that the goals (such as eradicating poverty) were initially set in 2000 to be achieved by 2015 ( now of course forwarded to 2030). As ever the wrong people hold the reins and, as those most qualified nevere seek this power, we are stuck in a vicious cycle. Answers, please, on a postcard…

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    1. Too often it’s down to the schools, Chris, which is more than a little unfair. It so often seems that every problem society casts up, the schools are expected to deal with. We start every term looking at the rights (and responsibilities) of children. This year, I wondered whether there might be any left soon. It’s always the children who get it in the neck and then we wonder why the problems persist. Until governments really demonstrate their commitment to the future by investing in our children, it will only get worse. One generation inheriting the previous one’s problems. It’s maddening. And so unjust. And scary to think that in relatively few years we’ll be dependent on the compassion of the children we failed.
      I’d probably scrawl on that postcard, ‘Do Unto Others…’ and address it to All Of Us. Then see if we could pass that law. :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We too devote a lot of time to both rights and core values, and, whilst the children do get try to take this on board, I am only too aware of the fact that many return home to families who have been disenfranchised from society by successive governments. I’m sure that the schools in which you have worked must have been similar to mine – a catchment which draws heavily from neglected and ostracised families, and we, as you say, bear the brunt of governmental criticism for the perceived failure of the children. Do unto others. I couldn’t agree more. Chin up 😕

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      2. There can be quite wide disparity in the schools and classes I’m in. Some really quite well off and fortunate in their family life. Some poor but well cared for nevertheless and then those whose circumstances you wouldn’t wish on an enemy. You’ll likely be the same, Chris. You get to see all sides of society through the eyes of children. Quite often it’s not till you meet the parents that you go, ‘Ah, I see now.’ Got one of those coming up next week. Chin well up. 🙂

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  4. Excellently written… labels are awful, so tired of hearing labels and having vulgar language being slung around. Have avoided reading blogs the past week, just to keep my head in the sand a bit longer…. I voted, proud of my vote, wouldn’t change my vote, didn’t want to read about how my vote resonated. So thankful yours was the first blog I read. Thank you. Cathi

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    1. It’s too easy to apply labels to the many different reasons people say and do. My fear is that if we ignore them completely we negate the signs. And signs are useful as guidelines to where we have been, where we want to go, who we want to be. I hope we heed the signs on our roads so we don’t become lost. You’ll be glad the campaign is over, I expect. It was a long and difficult haul. Time for reflection and healing and whatever may follow. Stay well, Cathi and thank you for visiting. x

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