Labels and the Fear of Tyranny

As a lover of literature, I’ve always found the concept of “genre” insulting. Often, bookstore selections are categorized by the type of book they are. For example, you can find Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in the “mystery” section of Barnes and Noble. Because Christie’s masterpiece contains suspense generated from unanswered questions (who is killing everybody in the house?), it is labeled as a mystery novel. Its plot moves as a mystery. Yet, when one learns who the killer is, and the evil reasoning behind the person’s actions, one could be genuinely disturbed. I certainly got this feeling, at least. So in my mind, the story is ALSO a “horror” tale, for it conjures negative emotions in the reader. In this sense, Christie’s book can be seen in MULTIPLE ways and not just one.

You see, in my personal opinion, the longer one is exposed to fiction and thinks about all the different kinds of stories people have penned and typed over the years, one is aesthetically dazzled by the diversity of all the different kinds of stories you can read. Mystery, Horror, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy, Western, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Legal Thriller, etc. One is charmed by all the different options one can have in the written word. For someone who aspires to be a writer, the diversity of fiction is one of its most appealing qualities to me. Diversity gives the world color. Instead of one law of creativity or topic being valued above others, one can appreciate different kinds of topics. If a singular idea rules the typewriter, then the path of the author can become boring or monotonous.

Imagine watching your favorite movie so many times that you eventually become tired of it. You find yourself wanting to see something else, to recapture that sense of thrilling discovery when you first watched your favorite flick. Diversity is refreshing to us, because it not only gives us more options, but guarantees new discoveries and experiences that will rescue us from the boredom and dullness of repetition. I had loved the Harry Potter books for a while before I began my real journey into books in 2008. The question that prompted this journey was the question “What if there are other books out there as good as Harry Potter?” I didn’t want to be stuck with Harry Potter for the rest of my life, even though I loved his story. So, since I wanted to recapture that sense of enjoyment that Rowling’s books had given me all over again, I searched for new reads. Like a mountain climber who wants to leave the Alps and climb Everest, all because he wants something just as much, or maybe more, entertaining for him than being in the same range every year.

Diversity is a beautiful thing, for it shows us all the elements of our life and fills us with wonder. We begin to comprehend that we are part of a very intricate design that defies simple explanation.

But what about labels, particularly, words we use to define things so as to distinguish them?

For example, we see a dog barking in the street and we call it a “dog,” for “dog” is the word we use to identify it as such. We use language to identify things, like we use numbers to explain natural causes. If we did not use the label, we could not identify it. To be able to put words to something is important for our understanding of life; without explanation, we drift into ambiguity and fogginess.

The question becomes: it is a healthy thing to remain in the murky clouds, or be able to see what actually is over the horizon? There are two people in the world: those who dream in mystery, and those who can’t function without clarity.

These two kinds of people are diametrically opposed to each other in terms of value. One loves diversity, with all of its choices, the other wants decisiveness, the ability to decide on what matters most. And both are seriously afflicted with moral weakness: the dreamer wishes he could have more conviction in his life and less questioning and doubting. The absolutist wishes that maybe for once he could relax in a daydream and rest his over studious brain.

And speaking of morality, there also seem to be two kinds of people: those who have a strong sense of moral conviction, and those who are not as sure of right and wrong so as to be more comfortable with who they are.

Take the all-continuing controversy over the gay marriage ruling by the Supreme Court. After Friday, homosexuals have the right to marry in all 50 states. For the Christian, this is a nightmare; it is not merely the turning away of America from biblical law, but another sure sign that the world has a low view of right and wrong. The Christian seems to think that without a clear sense of right and wrong from a sure source (the Bible), then the world will weep loudly in the pagan streets of New York, wail in their wasteland farms after God has sent another tornado to punish them, and gnash their teeth when the pastor uses a biblical verse to disprove their optimistic view of free love. The world is going to Hell, not in a hand basket, but in a roaring transfer trailer.

The homosexual is happy after Friday, for the country now sees that the sense of good and evil is not as clear as Jesus made it. The ruling makes it more possible for gays to live without Christians using law to deny them very simple rights. They’re glad the law understands that not all people believe the same thing, and by doing what it did, the court has created a world of all inclusiveness. If Christians had their way, a gay person would be hard-pressed to be themselves in real life. But some liberals make a very intriguing statement even after the ruling: “there is still a long way to go.”

Wait. A long way to go for marriage equality? No, because that’s apparently been settled. Then what? What remains?

This is where the Christian shifts uncomfortably. Because they’re afraid, afraid that one day the court will rule something in greater favor of the gay community. Like what? Well, here is an idea:

“It’s now illegal for churches to gather together to preach against homosexuality.”

Whoa. Dang. In this way, the gay community can truly condemn bigotry at its foundation: the Church. It’s bigoted to condemn a gay person in religious terms, for its a wrong LABEL. The LABEL is inaccurate. But the Church says “No it IS accurate.” So you see then, not all labels are the same. We are ok with calling a canine chewing a bone a dog. But we are uncomfortable either calling a Christian a power hungry zealot, or a gay a power hungry hippie.

Both sides are afraid not merely of the label, but the FORCING of ideas down their throat.

It is about power, my friends. And there is nothing pretty about power. There is something even scary about lifting a box, because it means you can move the box to a place it doesn’t want to be moved.

Each side is afraid of being wiped off the face of the earth. They are both wrong. Diversity is still there. It always will be. And no matter how much power pulsates or diminishes, the world will still be a complex place.

We simply use labels to retain a sense of conviction, so that we may sleep at night. No matter what the other thinks. With faith in ultimate meaning, we are able to function as human beings. Just as the seasons always change, so will human affairs. In this way, tyranny is never eternal, though it may presume to be the liberator of men.

You sincerely wish that, in seeing Christians and homosexuals bash each other, that that could be understood.

I guess not. Because that’s a just a dream eh? 😉

2 thoughts on “Labels and the Fear of Tyranny

  1. I really like the comparison between the two types of people; the “scientist” and the “artist”; the “absolutist” and the “enigmatist”.

    I really hope that I came to mind.

    And I really enjoy the spin that you put on it as well.

    I’m also glad that you have shed some light on diversity, because that has always “mystified” my “absolutist, clarity-seeking” mind…

    I suppose that that completion, my “other half”, is why we are best friends.

    And at least now, we can get married in the great state of North Carolina :-*

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