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How to defuse a hate epidemic: laziness in the U.S. leads to division

Burning the Man
Burning the Man
Aaron Logan, Flickr Creative Commons, Commercial Use

Last week, while discussing the crucible in Fergusen, Missouri on Facebook, and denouncing racism and the militarization of the police, I was labelled a 'Far-Left Liberal' by a friend of a friend in another comment. (Ouch!) The label took on a life of its own. Forgotten was the original conversation, the point of the argument, or the complexity, nuance and sophistication of a human being capable of holding opposing points of view in mind without loss of center. It was all gone in a heartbeat, in a five-syllable fly-by labelling: 'Far-left-lib-er-al'.

Learning to call people names that indicate they are nothing like us: this is how we are victimized, raped, slaughtered, ripped off, emasculated, dishonored, devocalized. (In honor of the upcoming Burning Man festival, the greedy boogeyman, which is really a conglomerate of mostly white men running corporations and whatnot, shall be heretofore called Burning Man.)

Divide and conquer. That's been the name of the game since war was invented. But the Burning Man faces some challenges. How to divide and conquer a world increasingly united by technology and evolving intelligence?

Below is Burning Man's strategy for perpetual domination, ownership, and plunder, and the comeback for the rest of us:

Divide and conquer:

1. Separate people into Us and Them.
2. Instill fear and loathing in Us of Them through 'otherness' - racism, sexism, etc.
3. Objectify and separate Us from Them by creating a label (e.g. loaded race, gender, politics and sexuality labels, e.g. 'Ho')
4. Anyone bearing the Them label is nullified as a human being. They have no voice and no legitimacy.
5. As a result, all people are at war all the time, always struggling to survive despite the Earth’s bounty.
6. War always equals profit for The Burning Man.
7. Burning Man is neither Us nor Them.

The comeback, or How To Burn The Man:
8. We are Them and They are Us.
9. Stop fighting! Stop picking on each other! Stop labeling! Leave each other alone!
10. Find your common ground and turn the collective power against Burning Man and his war and depravity.

Labels are helpful for classifying things. They are helpful in science, in cooking, in fixing cars, in operating rooms, genetically modified organisms in our food where ironically they are needed and not available...labeling has lots of helpful uses.

But, in our very special brand of American-bred laziness, we've become label-happy. We use them recklessly, thoughtlessly, selfishly. A label allows us to feel like we know everything we need to know about someone. At least all we need to know to label them as 'benign' or 'potentially dangerous', or 'someone to ignore' or any other judgement that allows us to shut that person out. Shutting out is the opposite of love!

How ugly is that? How lazy? How horrible? Fergusen, Missouri is a case in point. The holocausts all around us are others.

The maxim "Don't judge a book by it's cover," doesn't even begin to explain what's happening today. People are glancing at the cover of the book (while texting, eating and driving), coming up with their own title and then judging it!

Hate is learned: this we know. If we want to stop the cancerous division in the world, we need to stop with the lazy labels. People are complex. Some people have such amazing skills that our jaws would drop with awe, but we don't see them in their arena of performance, we see them at the supermarket, or in the classroom, where their gifts may be invisible.

"Love your neighbor as yourself", Jesus said. Contrary to popular belief (probably perpetuated by lazy and selfish people), in order to love someone, it is necessary to make a great effort to understand them. To try to see them as they see themselves, and as those who love them see them. Labels don't help with this, unless you're talking about the simplest of people, who are told what to think by their friends, family and television programming.

Unlearn the hate. Unlearn the fear of 'otherness'. Unfix the labels. If, as Walt Whitman says, we contain multitudes, how fascinating is that? Look for the fascination, for the wonder in each other and ourselves. In this way, perhaps we can stop the division that is destroying us, and unite in peace and well-being for the Earth and all its inhabitants.

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