Sticks and Stones

Posted: May 4, 2009 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church
Tags: , , , , ,

By Matt Horan

          “Sticks and stones will break my bones by names will never hurt me…”  Well, as they say in my new sister-in-law’s native Australia:label-maker


          It occurs to me that the kiss of death in America’s sociological discourse is to be called a name.  Conversely, the way to effectively assasinate the credibility of someone involved in the discourse is to label them.
          For instance, a person listens to a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama and says, “Hey, that’s a pretty good idea.”  Someone could easily respond and say, “What are you, a socialist?”
          For instance, a person has religious beliefs that are in conflict with the beliefs of someone else.  We’ll call him Jack.  Someone could easily address Jack and say, “What are you, a fundamentalist?”
          Gasp!  Me?  A socialist?  No, heavens no!
          Gasp!  Me?  A fundamentalist?  No, heavens no!
          See, all it takes to get everyone within earshot to stop taking somebody seriously is for them to be branded.  “He’s a conservative–you know how they are.”  “She’s a liberal–you know how they are.”  All it takes for us to instantly objectify and devalue another human being’s point of view is to give them a name that lumps them together with your “enemy.”  Because after all, “They’re all alike.”
          I find in myself this instinct at work to avoid being labelled.  If I can avoid choosing a side on an issue, I’ll remain safe, relevant, enlightened, worth listening to.  But the moment someone gets me to take a side, I’ve sold my soul.  Might as well chain be by the neck to the people in front of me as we amble back and forth in step, all marching exactly the same.  I’m worthless to the conversation.  I’ve got nothing fresh to add.
          I’m cursed with the need to hink out loud.  What that means is that I need to talk through the information at my disposal before I can process it and respond to it, whether in thought, word, or deed.  But I’m afraid to do that.  If I send out a test thought, can I take it back if I don’t like how it sounds?
          Conversations that begin with sizing everybody up to see where they stand and end with someone belittling those that don’t agree with them are worthless.  True dialogue involves an exchange of ideas in a climate of acceptance, free of manipulating agendas that are waiting in the bushes to strike when the opportunity arises.
          Wait, can I say “Bushes”?
          “What are you , a conservative?”


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s