Sadly, despite all the progress (?) we have made, one could say the same for today. We may not be embroiled in the great civil war of which Lincoln spoke in his immortal address yet it feels to me as if we are drawing perilously near to just such an event. The chasms of division and the mutual hatred and disrespect on both sides grows increasingly war-like and I fear for the future. I may not be Thomas Payne--although in one past life regression I found myself a young man working under his direction as a "printer's devil" and would-be author until claimed by consumption. At any rate, here is my essay on the current developing chaos and a fervent wish for change that is real progress for not all change is progress in any way! Today, go in peace--please!
The Tyranny of Labels
Religion is to give humanity hope and government to give them reasoned guidance and protection. Yet over the eons, more brutal and bloody wars have been fought for religion or system of government than even for gain. Though in the end, it usually boils down to a conflict of power by someone or several someones although religion and politics are the magic terms used to inflame the masses into action.
Would that we were capable of life without labels, without authority save our own under the Supreme Authority. Then we could live without war. But will mankind ever be so improved? Nay, never, one would say, looking to the lessons of history. Civilization is the thinnest and most fragile of veneers, and we are all raging beasts beneath it. It is a sad farce with which we have deluded ourselves.
No form of government is intrinsically “bad.” Rather it is those who govern that make a system either bad or good. A “good” ruler or dictator can make a utopia of his or her land while a “bad” democracy can result from misjudgment by its electors. “Communism” and “Capitalism” can both work if the leaders are fair and clear-minded and the people believe in and trust them and the system. It is only when we feel threatened by the fact the world holds others who believe differently from us that a system becomes a problem. It is only when we make a jihad over differing labels that peace is impossible.
Do not call me “conservative”, “Democrat,” or “Baptist,” like it is a curse. Do not say “Catholic”, “liberal” or “monarchist” in the same tone and manner as “bastard” or “whore.” We do not need to live in a tyranny of labels. We could stop doing so tomorrow, today, even right now! Are you not weary of it, too, brain, bone and soul?
Although there will always be minorities of some kind with a degree of prejudice and hatred, we can work to overcome this. Must we really think, “We are flat and they are fat; we hate them?” or “I am light but you are bright, so I shun you?” Life would be utterly boring if all of us were exactly alike in every respect. For the most part we welcome and enjoy those differences. Therefore, why should we be repelled to violence and ostracism by some while we enjoy and espouse others? Do we really think we are so perfect that we should play deity and make everyone else over in our own image?
To the ancient Romans, a “barbarian” was a stranger, one who spoke not Latin but an alien tongue that sounded like gibberish. Barbarians were less than human, somewhere between beasts and demons. Then there were heretics, those whose spiritual beliefs were at variance with those held by the rulers or upper class. What a threat they were simply by existing! They must be converted or put to the sword! Despite these measures, they still might gain adherents and eventually become the majority, making others the heretics.
Hatred is the son of fear begotten by ignorance. Yet how heartily do we adopt and accept this illegitimate orphan and nourish it to strength and power! We starve our children to feed it and deny our own humanity to its demands. Let us endeavor to kick those stupid labels aside and respect the way strengths of difference make the whole better.