I hate labels. People tend to think that if they can identify a thing or identify with a thing, they can know that thing, intimately. So certain is the human race of this practice, that we can formally justify just about any atrocity, injustice, or corruption of personal integrity. And we can feel good about doing it! I cannot begin to count the number of friends I have lost in my life due to an interpretation of some categorical anomaly in my daily activity. If I call myself a Catholic, it is a notion assumed away by countless minds, all suffering from their own myopia. In fact, the best Christians I have ever met could not identify at all with the label. And still, others who have called themselves such for many years, did not even remotely resemble the meaning of the term by any popular definition.
I have found that the same is true of all “groups”. My wife is adamantly against “Feminism” yet is perhaps the best feminist I know. She understands the value of free choice, of personal responsibility, of rudimentary equality, and most importantly, the consequences of assuming an identity. And these consequences are severe. To become one thing over another excludes by default everything and everyone outside of the paradigm. Of course, there are those who quite foolishly attempt to create better semantics, to say Christianity IS this and NOT that. They will site numerous examples in scholarship, theology, and/or history, and they will say, this is what it “truly means” and this is “how it became corrupt”. Are they correct? Can they be?
Categorization has become an epidemic. If we, as a society, are not grouping children at school into perfect little boxes, we will certainly imprison them by the time they enter the workforce. Everyone has to be something and they need to be known, defined, and controlled by that very thing. Yet, few will even take the time to recognize the futility of this operation; rather, they will choose to only see the “good” this identity contributes to their life and the “great” ethical stance this activist mentality produces. But do they see the prejudices, the automatic segregation, the loss of camaraderie and compromise? Do they see how this spawns hatred and fabricates war in the name of something good and pure (to them)?
To be sure, the ideologies are not wrong; it’s the labels, it’s the manipulation of the human psyche at the hands of a limited and grossly imperfect communication. If I have an idea and I begin to believe strongly in that idea, then wish to share this idea with others, I must speak of it, transmitting this concept through words and gestures so that others may understand. But how much information is lost in this process? If I say I am Christian, does this mean to you exactly what it means to me? Do you see my actions objectively or only through the lens of the label? Do I have an identity to you outside of this word?
If perhaps the human race had the ability to ‘telepathically’ communicate information between minds, there would be no public activists, group-think assemblies, and neatly packaged categories creating ‘us or them’ dichotomies so as to influence the world into becoming more like “us”. Perhaps then being a Christian or a Feminist or a liberal, or a conservative, or anything the deluded human mind wishes to pretend, will become a quality of action rather than an identity, essentially moving these dangerous terms from the adjectives they aren’t to the mutable verbs they are.
Don’t join a religion or a political party (or any assembly, ideology, or group) because you “believe in it”. Join it because its activity is fundamental to the natural operations of your own mind and then only when it has proven itself to be liberated from your self-identification. If, however, after this honest analysis you still believe in whatever it is, that’s when it owns you and that’s when you need to let it go, let it die, let it rest in the grave where it belongs, for all our sakes. No matter how sacred it seems, it is the true enemy of everything wholesome and innocent and perfect.