The Problem With Labeling


When’s the last time you went to the grocery store to buy some hamburger? Just recently?

Every so often I’ll run an errand for my wife, which will include a stop at our local, employee owned, Hy Vee Food store.

With list in hand, I’ll wander the aisles looking to complete my task in record time. Milk, eggs, ice cream; no problem. I know what to buy, how to checks the eggs, so not a big deal.

However, as I look at the hamburger section of the cooler, my mind spins as it takes in row after row of packaged red meat all looking like hamburger. Throw in a little ground round, ground sirloin, and ground chuck and my mind begins to feel as though it has been shrink wrapped just a little too tight.

Why? Well, in my mind hamburger is hamburger. To me, one generic label with “hamburger” written on it should suffice. But no, someone had to decide to make it complicated. 93% lean, 90% lean, 80% lean. Apparently all hamburger isn’t the same. So, to help the customer identify the different varieties, the meat is tagged with specific labels by the person who prepared it.

Even though we understand we must not jump to conclusions while grocery shopping, we are inclined to leap to unfounded assumptions with the smallest amount of provocation where plain, ordinary people are concerned.

For instance; if I let people know I’m a Christian, some will automatically assume the following is true of me:

A conservative, republican, gun toter, gay basher, Hollywood hater, hymn singer, home schooler, bible thumper, narrow minded, non thinker who loves to ruin the environment by drilling for oil, stripping the earth of its resources, and polluting the water and air. According to their “label”, I drive big SUV while listening to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and everyone’s favorite, Michael Salvage.

They assume I hate Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, and big government. I worship on Sundays in my church, but Monday through Saturday have my “devotions” while tuned into Fox News.

People can understand why all hamburger isn’t equal, but fail to use the same logic where people are concerned.

Of course, people who’ve been identified by their Christian label can be just as ignorant as anyone else. I’ve been guilty of viewing “liberals” in such a way.

“Liberal”, to many Christians or conservatives (it IS possible to be a conservative without being a Christian), means a person who’s a gun hater, Bush hater, tree hugger, abortion lover, Obama worshipper, evolution believer, Prius driver, rainbow painter, NPR donor, deep thinker, with a humanistic world view. Nothing sacred is sacred to these people. They attempt to disassociate themselves and the whole human race from anything and everything that even hints to be religious. They are direct descendants of Nimrod, and only go to church on Christmas and Easter.

And, for a fact, there is no such thing as a Christian liberal, or a liberal who’s saved. Every liberal is a democrat, and vice versa.

Really? Since when?

I believe it’s foolish to act that way or to think so small.

Yes, there are some absolutes when defining a Christian or a “non” Christian.

An example: “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:4-6 ESV)

In another part of the bible Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.”

The other day I made a comment about guns. Some people acted as though I had just committed the unpardonable sin. Not everyone. There were some well thought out comments, respectfully submitted. I always appreciate good, thought provoking discussion. But to some, it was like I had just announced I was the antichrist.

So I did some thinking. It led to me to ask myself, “how often to I automatically put a “one tag fits all” on someone”? Once a day? More? Less?

I really would like for people to embrace my beliefs, because I know they’re right. Egotistical? No. It’s just me. And, chances are, you’re the same way.

And other people, just like you and I are passionate about their beliefs.

In many cases, our differences, though big, aren’t that important. But if we’re ever going to get an opportunity to share with others what we believe is the foundation of our life, we’d better learn how to accept people as individuals.

Don’t just simply look at their surroundings from afar and determine they’re all just hamburger. Get a little closer and see what they really are.

Hamburger isn’t necessarily just hamburger.

And people are much more than any label WE may place on them.

Just call me ground round.

4 responses to “The Problem With Labeling”

  1. This is a difficult subject since, as humans, our brains are wired to label everything. labeling is crucial to how we operate in the chaos of this world and that’s not a bad thing. The bad enters when we believe our labels are truth and not just the method our brains use to process and evaluate information.
    Funny that you stated that your beliefs are right. I’ve always marveled at statements like that, or rather, the need for them. I’ve been in “passionate discussions” in the past and hit with “You always think you’re right!” and I’d wonder, how many people are out there holding opinions and arguing to defend positions they know are lies? I mean, come on! If I believe something then I must think it’s right or I wouldn’t believe it…kind of makes my head spin. Now, I love to debate and hone my knowledge and I will update my views when solid information dictates. But, please, don’t be surprised that I believe I believe the right things.


    • I hope you realize when I said I believe my beliefs are right, it was used more as bait for people to grab hold of. Yet, everyone, as I said, believes what they believe. We believe things so strongly that our beliefs dictate have we act, think, and speak. Watch a person long enough, especially if they aren’t aware, and you’ll discover what they believe.

      I normally don’t tell people my beliefs are right. I just live as though they are, just like everyone else. As my beliefs change, so do my actions. As do yours. Right?


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