Labels: Overrated?


Walking on Water

“The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.” ~ H. L. Mencken

I feel for my mother when people ask her, “So, what’s your quirky daughter up to nowadays?”

If my aristocratic mother had said that her daughter is a money sorter or a masseuse, you can imagine how a dignified conversations crumble to uncontrollable snorts.

There’s so much that having a job title can do for you these days.

People mention their statuses to gain power in a conversation, a.k.a. in society. I’m guilty of the same; unless I’m actually in no mood of a conversation, I’d try to polish and show off my skills and experience, especially in debates where credentials defines whom gets the last word.

Understandably people measure respect and depth of an interaction based on these (often hard-earned) labels. Labels simplify a lot of things, answer a lot of unnecessary questions. The same goes for statistical numbers, titles, diagnosis, places traveled, cars owned, etc.

My question then, what happens if labels become our only barometer for assessment?

The worst that on labels can do to mankind is found in the history of racism, where people are treated by the color of this skin or place of origin. The milder form - and the more common, yet no less toxic - is in spending your resources on being, buying and bowing to the labels that you think will define your place in society.

You’re hip if you have been to the new amusement park. You’re an important person if your phone never stops ringing, even if it was just reminding you to buy milk. You must be a good Muslim if you never miss a single prayer.

If having these things make you happier, cut your tasks so that you can enjoy more quality time then - by all means - go for it. Wasn’t that the main reason to acquiring labels, simplifying your life? So that you can enjoy the things that give depth and meaning to your labels.

And you can tell them, mama, your baby girl’s doing great, sorting money and all.

PS: The next time it rings during a meal, I don’t care who’s calling, I’m grilling that Blackberry.
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