Weekly Challenge: Dangerous Labels

I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.
Today’s challenge: Labels

Labels are everywhere.  It seems that everyone is a part of a label, a particular “group” that defines who they are. Some are harmless. Sports fans and writers enjoy the particular topic their label refers to. In this case, the label is simply an expression of their interests.

But what about those labels that come to define a person? That’s when it gets tricky. When labels become a definition rather than an expression, then they become stereotypical. And that spells danger. Stereotypes = isolation or even hatred.

Do you label people with stereotypes? No? Well, let’s check. I’m going to be bold and jump right into it with a hot topic- Muslims. What do you consider when you think of a Muslim? For many, especially in America, it’s the image of the blanket-wearing, gun-toting terrorist whose sole purpose in life is to blow people up.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s all over the place- I see it all the time on Facebook. But that’s a label. Not all Muslims are trying to run the Jews to the sea or take over America. Not all those who observe Ramadan or spend their holy days in a mosque instead of a church are plotting the destruction of American troops.

I saw two women in the grocery store recently, both dressed in “traditional” Muslim outfits (which, ironically, in itself is a misconception. But that’s another story). I have a hard time thinking that these women are going home to terrorists husbands.

That’s where the problem lies. Not all people are the same, no matter what banner they flock to. Muslim, Christian, or whatever other label you want- they all have extremes. Christians are famous for the brutalities during the crusades. Does that mean I want to force a “convert or die” mentality simply because I attend church? Certainly not.

And so it is with them. Yes, I’m addressing a hot issue right now. Religion is one of those topics people shy away from. But you know what? Some things just need to be said.

So there’s my challengeinstead of seeing a label, rather consider the individual behind the label. You just might be surprised at the person you’ll meet. They just might turn out to be very much like you.

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