Sunday, April 26, 2009


The monikers are ridiculous, and I have been known to throw them about at times.

The Bard wondered what is in a name, and the answer is apparently an aweful lot, because everyone seems to want to go out of their way to avoid certain labels and attract other ones. It reminds me of the Max Lucado story I have read many times to my son...the one about the dots and the stars. We all do tricks, jump through hoops to get the proper label. Punchenello gets caught up in the labels and loses himself. But in the end most of us would leap for joy if those we loved or hoped to love slapped a big star on our back.

This is no judgment. It is life, after all, a human trait. We all want to belong.

Have you ever noticed that Wes Anderson's movies tend to revolve around the theme of belonging? Dignan sought with all his misguided might to belong to Mr. Henry's crowd. Max Fischer wanted to belong at Rushmore. Everyone wanted to belong to the great myth of the Tennenbaum family, most especially Mr. Tennenbaum...and on and on.

Labeling is part of what we do, because we all want to belong to something. Hell, even the rebels all dress the same.

A problem I see is when labels become just labels. What I mean is that there are labels that are words or a phrases artificially slapped onto someone or something that need not hold even the sparest of thin links to anything real about the person or thing or movement. But we often treat words like liberal, progressive, conservative as though they are just labels when they actually do communicate something that is real about the person or thing or movement. If I label someone a conservative Catholic for you, you now know that in all likelihood that person doesn't believe that women can be priests, that folks ought not play pokey-pokey under the sheets before marriage, that John Paul II was a great man and not a genocidal maniac, etc. There are people...yes even Catholics...that hold different views on this.

Yes labels are limited and can be dangerous, but that is because people start to use them in ways other than they are intended. Labels are shorthand. They have their use.

For me, I will call myself a proto-paleo-jurassic-crusty-con...because I can.

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