Ekhart Tolle writes about the importance of being fully engaged in the present, and how everything that works to take you out of the present (and into the past or future via your mind) tends to build up your ego, your “false self”. Labels are an example of this; when you can give something a label you don’t really have to be present to it anymore because in a sense you’ve frozen it in time. You’ve ascribed to it an unchanging condition, though in reality we are constantly changing. Political labels are no different. I find it interesting when people proudly claim “I’m a Progressive”, or “I’m Conservative”. To me, what they’re really saying is “I’m am dead”, or at the very least, “I am done.” To describe yourself as being in a frozen state is the exact opposite of a living BEING.
This is not to say that I can’t see the power of labeling in the real world, and you can’t really opt out completely. I hold points of view that others might describe as both “liberal” and “conservative”. Furthermore, I have conservative friends who hold some liberal opinions, and vice versa. I think most people are more like this than they realize, but there is so much fear out there being stoked by politically aligned media that try to think for you and tell you that you have to “be something.” Fear can be a great tool for controlling people.
Wisconsin’s concealed carry law comes to mind as one recent example: Its opponents conjured up scenarios of the OK Corral, gun fights in the streets. Two years later this hasn’t been the case, though recently a man killed his attackers while being beaten with a baseball bat at his place of work. I support a regulated right to concealed carry, though I also believe that that all guns sales without background checks should be illegal and prosecuted. To me this isn’t a “conservative” or “liberal” issue, it’s common sense.
I don’t know if there is a more divisive issue in America right now than the Affordable Care Act, “Obama Care”. (Interesting, my text editor just correctly auto corrected for “Obama Care”). I know someone who’s health insurance at the business he runs was projected to go up 40-60% due to new regulations. I also know people who work full time but haven’t had health insurance for many years because of preexisting conditions, but are now covered. I think that it will take a few years to judge if this was a good thing for America overall. Is it possible that the demonization of the President and labeling the ACA “Obama Care” turns out to be a strategic mistake for Republicans? There are a lot of hard working Americans of all stripes who have been without healthcare for a long time.
So next time you friend declares “I am ___”, you can think “What would ET do?” (Tolle, not the space alien) and then just reply them “I AM!”