Labels

It’s amazing how much we like to label one another.  Really…we like to put people in neat little boxes with labels that categorize them and clearly let us know in an instant what they are going to be like, what they are going to value and what their interests will be.

what labels have you carried over the years?

I was reflecting today on how my thoughts on “environmentalists,” “tree huggers” and the like have changed over the past couple years…from not caring much about the environment other than I wanted it to stay pretty for years to come because I like playing in it to actually taking creation care seriously.  Then as I was shopping at Whole Foods today putting organic food and all natural products into my basket thinking about how the store is often times full either with people who have a lot of money and shop there because it’s trendy or hippies (I know that’s somewhat stereotypical…but have no fear…I shop there and don’t fit into either of those categories).  I wondered where I “fit.”  Certainly I I’m this super left leaning, tie-dye wearing, peace sign flashing hippie.  But I do rock climb, I do ski, I do try to buy organic and natural products, I do try to avoid unnecessary packaging and plastic.  I don’t buy bottled water, I’m pretty vigilant about leave no trace while backpacking, I test out all natural and aluminum-free deodorants, and I have even researched earthship homes.  I care about justice issues, I buy fair trade whenever possible and I try to bike to work on campus when the weather is decent.  So what does that make me??

Yeah...not quite!

I started by google-ing some environmental words and landed on the urban dictionary website.  Environmentalist, tree hunger and crunchy were quickly thrown out and granola soon after (it was an education learning that they are all distinct terms and aren’t really used interchangeably).  I soon realized that unless I started a compost bin in my apartment (where would I put that??), recycled everything (I try…but my location isn’t conducive to recycling and unless I let things collect for months the gas I would waste hauling the stuff around to far off recycle centers in my 15mpg explorer…or even the 30mph cavalier for that matter would probably negate the fact that I was recycling something)…unless I become a vegetarian, wear loose fitting & bamboo clothing, or drive a subaru, I wasn’t going to fit a definition.  And you know what…I’m fine with that.

I don’t think we were meant as people to fit neatly into little boxes all the time.  We all have different passions, strengths and talents.  We are all called to serve God and one another in different ways.  We even have different ways of doing the same thing.  But we like to put people in boxes and so we do.  Some boxes aren’t all that bad, some are good and some are downright helpful (my Myers-Briggs “box” was helpful in learning about myself!)…but I think we need to be careful not to write a person off or make too many assumptions about them based on their initial box.  Often the content of similarly labeled boxes are different.  We need to take time to get to know people and figure out what’s in their box…no matter how we’ve labeled it.

As for me and my labels…I’m content with saying I care about creation care and I’m moving forward in the best ways I know how to take care of the world God has entrusted to us, the people he’s placed around us, as well as the body he has entrusted to me.  If that causes people to label me…so be it…but most will find I don’t fit into their box perfectly 🙂

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