Some thoughts about labels and things

I’m frustrated.

No, not with anything tangible, per say. It’s more about an abstract perception of other people’s views of things. Yes, things; things in general, attitudes, assumptions. I suppose you could say I’m flat out puzzled by some things.

For instance, the better half found an interesting networking group on Facebook called Transition. After clicking the link to the Transition US website and reading up on what they’re all about, I must say, I was rather intrigued. In a nutshell, they’re about communities and small groups working to transition our current views and modes of living and working in response to the challenges of peak oil, climate change, and the economic crisis.

I liked the whole community involvement angle; I liked the concept of networking various groups and individuals working towards similar goals. But the rhetoric of some of the information was a little, well, alarming on some level that I haven’t quite put my finger on yet. But I did find links to all sorts of interesting new articles and sites I’m not familiar with and so Transition US has gone into my bookmarks.

So, here’s the rub. Why is it that sustainability doesn’t make sense to more people? And why is it that there are almost requisite labels that are forced upon those of us for whom sustainability does make sense?

What I’m talking about is this: if you’re all about growing your own food and getting off the grid you’re automatically classified as a political liberal. Liberals, upon hearing you want to grow your own food and get off grid, make this same assumption. However, if you’re not so gung ho on their political agenda, suddenly you’re condemned and classified as a Tea Partyer nut job.

Wait a minute, WHUUUUT?

How do you jump from, “I don’t really agree with this approach to issues f, g, x, y, and z ” to “well then you’re in the GOP’s back pocket”?


Human beings apparently have the overwhelming need to classify things, be they ideas, or plants, or people. However, I do tend to bristle at the way most people seem to classify others as an “individual” and then immediately jump to an “overarching generality” .

Sustainability and creating a more fulfilling life for yourself isn’t about political ideology. Do I buy into the Al Gore view of Global Warming? Nope. Do I buy into the idea that guns are bad? Nope. Do I buy into the idea that big business is all good? Nope, sure don’t. Do I think that science and technology are going save the world? Certainly not. Do I think everyone should live off grid and grow their own food? Not really.

What I do buy into, however, is that I can make my life better by living in greater harmony with the planet. I do think if more of us would adopt this view and make some pretty simple changes in our daily lives, and perhaps alter our world views just a little bit, we may end up leaving the world a better place for our descendants (I can’t say children, ’cause I don’t have any).

To be quite honest I really don’t have a very positive opinion of human nature, much less human beings. Maybe because it seems so many of us refuse to continue learning, refuse to hear someone else’s view, refuse to believe that life won’t just go on exactly as it is right now, ad infinitum. The fundamental constant in life and our Universe is change; everything is in flux at all times and seeking equilibrium. I take issue with humans assuming we have all the answers when the majority of us refuse to change ourselves.

My Dad used to always say, “Get your mind right.” Admittedly, when he was telling me this it was usually in a pretty negative context, but he had a point. Our ability to do begins with our understanding of the task at hand. Sometimes we have to stop, take a step back, and look, rather than rely on our assumptions and jump right in.

So think about your labels. Take a step back, look at people, listen to them and don’t assume they have to fit some rigid classification system you’ve created.

Get your mind right.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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