Labels (2020)

From deep within our humanity,
Comes a bypass to understanding,
Labeling becomes a quicker way of learning,
We label constantly,
Yet so rarely do we realize what we are doing.

The labels we have stuck to ourselves,
Made from emotions, memories, and patches of other labels,
Stuck to ourselves like a child to a new toy,
Like others these peel,
Like old bandages we soon take them off,
For they turn from what we think,
To a burden,
And soon the child discards the toy,
To move onto the next new thing.

We label to bypass the person,
Without having to understand who that person is,
We label because we are scared,
We label to quell the deep angst
Bought about by uncertainty,
We label to control this unruly world we were given,
While making it even more unruly,
Labeling the Earth, naming the people,
Changing things with our mind, creating lines where there are none,
Slapping labels on everything.

We name others as if they were objects,
People as if they were a commodity,
He is mean, they are bad, she is kind,
The sport of labelling is the art of the schoolyard bully,
The object never changes,
But the label, oh my,
Can strangle with invisible chains,
Creating a universe tailored for each person.

She is “black,” they are “illegals,” he is “gay,”
All ways of making people anonymous,
Subliminal labels that carry opinions,
If it starts of good, it goes bad,
If it starts of bad, it gets worse.
Not a response to the name,
But a response to the reaction.

Wars begin over labels,
This is “my” land, this is “yours,”
This is “my” resource, this is “yours,”
“Don’t take that”, “I want that,”
We fight for a land that will never change,
A world built on invisible lines that committees have drawn.
Killing others for a line on a map.

The victim, attempting to escape, to remove the label
peels, and scrapes,
Till they are an unruly mess,
Even the lucky ones who remove them,
Still have residue,
Always someone in the back trying to stick it back on,
Kinder people ignore labels, others rely on them.

What would life be like without labels?
Too much information to process,
Simplified into labels,
Labels are the summaries of life,
In the end subjective and unneeded,
But without them, we would waste time,
A quick explanation, filled with bias,
Is easier to digest than complexity.