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Labeling

April 18, 2013

We tend to do it to other humans, and it is a way of exerting authority over our brethren, or simply explaining phenomenon or the unusual or strange in other people.

But the truth is, we are all unusual or strange.

This entry is meant to be a preview for my forthcoming post on homosexuality, and is mainly free-associating on the above topic. I will separate, for the sake of clarity, the two different kinds of labeling that we as human beings relegate to each other: Diagnosis and prognosis. A diagnosis is when it is real and present. For example, a downs-syndrome person is downs-syndrome, no matter what, it is a diagnosis. It is clear and present. However, an autistic or retarded or schizophrenic person is not any of the above so long as it is not prognostic. It is a prognosis, and is tentative. There are many gray areas, and things in between that distinguish someone from having the condition from another.

For me, I typically call myself a bipolar or schizo-affective individual, as that is the diagnosis. But my doctor is mistaken. It is a prognosis, as it is situational and tentative. A while ago, I the diagnosis was deprived sleep psychosis, among other things. Many of the problems arising from mental illnesses are environmental. That is why I am saying that we are not all downs-syndrome or albino or something else on different levels; we are, however, all gay, all bipolar, all autistic, on varying levels. We are all unusual, and we are all ill in some way, regardless of what our doctors say or don’t say. The physical problems are different from the mental or spiritual, or those problems that lie beneath the surface. So does this mean that labeling is pointless, and a monstrosity?

No. We need these labels in order to have order. We cannot say that Stan is just Stan. Stan has to have these labels in order for there to be order. But I have a dream of a society where those labels are meaningless and they are recognized as such. An ideal society will not need the labels I am referring to. No, an ideal society will only need labels to identify the good qualities of a person or persons. For example, Becky is good at running. That’s all. We don’t have to say she is physically handicapped and is only good at running because she has prosthetic legs that are made for the sole purpose of running well. But this is where it gets hazy.

Labeling is just part of who we are as humans, and in the next coming posts, I plan to narrow in on the labeling of homosexuality. But I will dare to say that we all have a “gay” side to us. The negative parts of our identity work hand-in-hand with our positive parts. Stan is gay but has a girlfriend. Becky is crippled but won the race. Should Stan have a girlfriend? Ought Becky to have won the race? There are many hazy parts here. But clearly, there is some kind of mold we must fit into. There is some kind of norm to which we must adhere.

Stan should not have a girlfriend, and Becky won the race unfairly. It is good to win the race, because that is expected of the athletes. It is good to have a girlfriend, for that is expected of males. Here is where the gray turns black and white, and that is the result of the society that implements and retails these labels and rules that people must follow. We has humans need the black and white, the “yes” or “no” in order to function normally. The answer to whether something is right or not, however, is only a prognosis. It is not a diagnosis.

I will clarify. Society takes a prognostic approach when making labels, asserting roles, and making the rules. Prognosis is to justice as diagnosis is to mercy. In the end, the truth will be revealed, the curtains raised. The diagnosis is simply what we are, labels aside, and that is fine in the end. The prognosis is grayer, and not quite as clear, but it is just and right that we claim it, for it is the rule of society. If we go by the true diagnosis, we are all twisted and mistaken in one way or another. It is merciful and human to accept this, for it is the unwritten rule of morality and humility to do so. In the end, the diagnosis on everyone, no matter what kind of disease or problem they have, is human. The labels are there for justice’s sake. The life is there for mercy’s sake. It is a merciful thing that you are alive today.

So, will Stan leave his girlfriend for a boyfriend? Will Becky not participate in another race? It is not always easy for humans to follow the rules and behests of the society they created for the sake of order. But sometimes order must be quashed for the sake of humanity, for the sake of mercy. If Becky is really that good, regardless of her handicap making it “unfair,” then it must be figured out fairly and she must be given proper credit. And as for Stan, it is up to him. He does not need to be labeled a homosexual if he does not want to; something as abstract as sexual attraction should not be the decider of what he does with life, or how he decides for himself. He can choose to eschew his label, and be simply Stan. And no one else.

We can transcend labels. Of course, we all need groups of friends labeled in one way or another. If a nerd, one will need another nerd. If an athlete, one will hang out with other athletes, and so on. But one thing should be remembered: You are you, regardless. Yes, what you do defines you, but society can never make you simply what you do, and nothing else. It is merely prognosis. The diagnosis is, I think, between a person and God. When you die, George Washington will have crossed the Delaware one less time, because the memory of him doing so in one person’s perspective will have disappeared from the Earth. Think about how merciful and miraculous your life truly is. Once that is realized, the label no longer matters. You have transcended the label.

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From → Philosophy

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