I grew up admiring a little band named Metallica, even though many people believe their lyrics to be sinful and corrupt. I would argue that their lyrics are open and honest, even if they are unorthodox. One of my choice songs is entitled, “The Unforgiven.” The lyrics reveal a heartrending tale of a boy who is deprived of his thoughts, stripped of his determination, ridded of his life. In the end, he regretfully dies knowing he was not who he wanted to be. In fact, the child lived his entire existence with the labels placed on him, labels he never sought, labels with which he never agreed.
This is not only the story of “The Unforgiven,” this is my story. This is not only my story, this is your story. This is our story. As humans we place a label on everything. We label people. We label places. We label things. Once we place that label, we know where we stand. We know what we think about the noun, whatever type it may be. We know whether to listen or ignore. We know whether to take in or cast out. We know whether to love or hate. We know our beliefs, based on labels.
I am as guilty as the next person. James Hetfield, lead singer of Metallica, wrote, “You labeled me, I’ll label you.” This is clearly a reality of life, not to say it’s appropriate. Howard S. Becker argues for his labeling theory, claiming the “majorities’” belief that they are justified in negatively labeling the “minorities.” I am not arrogant enough to consider myself an exception to this rule. On the other hand, you know what they say about rules; they are made to be broken. Having the ability to break the rule is not the question. The question is: are you willing to break the rule. Are you willing to ignore the labels placed on you? Are you willing to bring to an end the labeling of others? I AM!
I write this in light of the labels that have been forced on me, labels with which I do not agree. Labels are what they are, and more times than not, they are inaccurate, misleading, and fabricated. Therefore, I encourage you to ignore the labels that have been placed on you. I also challenge you to end your labeling process, because labels have a tendency to lie.
Grace & Peace, Marc