Don't Let Labels Define You, Me, Us
To survive on Planet Earth, the Human Race must learn to look beyond labels, and let's take a closer look at May Day!
Sunday, May 1st, 2022
Dear Freedom Friends,
Before we dive into the ups and downs, slants and tangents, hurdles and back flips of “labels,” let’s not forget to be present in this moment. It’s May Day! This morning, as I woke up, I realized what day it was and immediately had a bright & cheery sensation of hope and gladness! It felt something like this:
Then, curiosity hit and I Googled “May Day” to learn more about this lovely, ancient holiday (which I happen to know is frequently based on Beltane). This is what came up:
“International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day in most countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement and occurs every year on May Day.”
Hmph! Given that International Workers’ Day is grounded in liberalism & socialism, the usurption of May Day for a completely different purpose is an interesting expression of Cultural Appropriation. “The connotation of appropriation, which is “to take for oneself,” differs from honoring or being influenced by other cultures.” I’m sure there was a reason for choosing the date, just as the Romans and Christians had “reasons” for converting Winter Solstice Holidays into celebrations of the “Light of Christ.”
Dear March, what does any of this have to do with labels?
Well, everything. A title is a label is a name is a description is a definition and all of that becomes an expectation! Which is really the problem with labels, isn’t it? Unless a label has a singular-only defintion (and clearly, May Day now has many distinctly different definitions), the use of them creates expectations that can be dashed, understandings that can be missed and plans that can go terribly awry. Imagine if you show up to a Workers’ Rally with a bouquet of flowers or a May Pole dance waving a sign decrying the horrors of capitalist pigs who murder protestors? You get my drift.
For more information about how May Day is celebrated around the world, go here. Scotland, in particular, has a lot of fun with this holiday:
“In Edinburgh, the Beltane Fire Festival is held on the evening of May eve and into the early hours of May Day on the city's Calton Hill. An older Edinburgh tradition has it that young women who climb Arthur's Seat and wash their faces in the morning dew will have lifelong beauty. At the University of St Andrews, some of the students gather on the beach late on 30 April and run into the North Sea at sunrise on May Day, occasionally naked. This is accompanied by torchlit processions and much elated celebration.”
And, for all you Outlander Fans, YES! There’s magic in them thar stones, but not on just any day: Frank sees Jamie's ghost the evening of April 28. The next morning, April 29, Claire and Mr. Crook go to the stones. On April 30 Frank and Claire visit Loch Ness. Early morning, May 1, Claire takes Frank to the stones and they watch the Druid dance. On May 2, in the afternoon, Claire goes through the stones. WATCH THE DRUID WOMEN DANCE.
On my way home from Hagerstown, Maryland, I stopped in at a fabulous “all in one” country store in Virginia. It was another ancient holiday, actually! Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. (Let’s see someone try to appropriate that one!)
I closed the place out, and one of the co-owners paused in locking up to ask about my travels with the People’s Convoy. When the topic of Covid Injections came up, he said, “Well, I’m a life long Democrat, so of course, I got vaccinated.” I was literally stunned, and I immediately asked the question begging to be voiced: “What about being a Democrat has anything to do with your medical decisions during a pandemic?”
I was being 100% sincere. For me, the idea that a medical choice has anything to do with one’s political affiliation simply did not compute, but as we talked further, we both began to realize exactly how this alignment of politics & healthcare choices has been purposefully encouraged by those who stood to gain one way or the other. Imagine if being a Democrat meant your family and friends would be aghast that you gave up a baby for adoption (rather than have an abortion), or if being a Republican meant you never used birth control and were unwilling to abort an unplanned pregnancy? Actually, there are a lot of people who DO see these views as being “part and parcel of the platform” of their chosen political party, but as Americans, do we not ALSO see ourselves as being free to make these private medical decisions — in private?
By the end of our lengthy discussion on many topics, the man was beginning to ask common sense questions about the Covid injections. And, I was even more aware that the Covid Experience has been instrumental in eliminating personal privacy in the United States of America. You know, that bastion of Individual Freedom and Human Rights? The country so many immigrants hope to one day call their own? A place where we embrace diversity through the act of tolerance?
So! Am I a Liberal, Democrat, Progressive? You tell me.
In my forty-nine years of being alive, I have been involved in myriad movements. I grew up “speaking with my body” by wearing dolphins, whales and turtle T-shirts, thanks to the preservation goals of Greenpeace. As a teenager, I stopped eating canned Tuna Fish, put “Save the Dolphins” stickers on cans in my local grocery store and began writing letters to my elected government officials. My second official job was as a “door to door canvasser” for an environmental organization trying to stop the burning of rice stalks twice a year based upon the suspicion that the silica in the stalks was causing extremely high rates of lung cancer in the Sacramento Valley. I stuck “Pro-Choice” bumper stickers on my car, spent years being vegan, a raw foodist, and committed to organic farming. I joined a Nude Country Club in the Santa Cruz mountains, became a La Leche League Leader as a new Mom, and spoke up in various venues about home birth, breastfeeding, cosleeping, vaccine choices, and homeschooling/unschooling/worldschooling options for parents and children.
In 2015/2016, I also organized on behalf of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. This meant attending our local 34th Dems monthly meetings, where I was asked to chair the Outreach Committee and to volunteer as the Lead Area Caucus Coordinator for our island. I also provided on the ground coverage as a citizen journalist in Philadelphia during the DNC. (That was brutal. If you’re curious, ask.)
In March of 2020, I was one of the first islanders to show up at our local Thriftway wearing a mask (and gloves). Why? To protect the Thriftway Staff who were exposed to hundreds of people a day, at a time when we knew very little about the SARS-CoV2 virus. I was operating on the precautionary principle, as I quickly scheduled an interview with an exquisitely well-educated PhD who was perfectly trained for the topic of Covid-19 and got that radio show out within days. The overall message? It’s unlikely, but we just might stop this virus in its tracks, if we’re willing to inconvenience ourselves this month specifically - stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands, and avoid physical contact! I also wrote the first Op-Ed in The Beachcomber, encouraging the same short term extra vigilance and caution.
While I was promoting this viewpoint, the local schools chose to remain open and even moved forward with plans for a local high school dance! Remember, we have students from three diverse geographic areas — you couldn’t plan a better “super spreader event” if you tried. Similarly, the vast, vast, vast majority of islanders rolled their eyes at people wearing masks and continued living life like normal while I was organizing with two other island women to create the #MasksForVashon Project, which raised funds and mobilized island sewers into a mask-making symphony that provided masks for regular folks at a time when N95s needed to be protected for the use of medical providers and other essential workers. At last count, #MasksForVashon had produced well over 10,000 homemade masks (I’m no longer involved). And to top it all off, I’m married to a brown immigrant, I have brown sons, and I live on an organic farm that uses zero-cides (pesticides, herbicides, etc).
If you’re looking for a solid “Liberal, Democrat/Berniecrat, Progressive” pedigree, I’m not sure you could find a person who better fits “the label.” My life story, my choices, my perspective and my actions directly align with the assumptions most make about a person thus labeled, do they not?
YET, despite all of that….this past February, I joined the People’s Convoy! You know, that rolling Trump Rally, filled with racist, right-wing, Republicans who refuse to believe in science. Right?
Actually, no. And, if you think that, you obviously weren’t there.
For a solid month, I traveled, conversed, learned and gained incredible insights from Americans of every color, age, skill set, heritage, culture, class, religion and political perspective! Why? Because, as a “Liberal, Democrat/Berniecrat, Progressive,” I also care deeply about the foundation upon which our nation sits!
The U.S. Constitution Matters. It is the document from which our nation rises, codifying limits proposed by the Founding Families (and affirmed by the elected representatives of the time) who hoped to empower future generations by setting strict limits on government. Their goal? To prevent the rise of a new aristocracy, monarchy or other form of tyrannical control. Like, a corporatocracy! Yes, they had corporations back then. The U.S. Constitution (and our Bill of Rights) offers us our BEST protection from dangerous government abuse & overreach, and I remain willing to stand up and defend Our Constitution any and every day I am alive. For the sake of my children, I am ready to act. This, to me, is an obligation of every American.
So again, I ask you. WHAT ABOUT THIS IS ANTI-DEMOCRAT, LIBERAL OR PROGRESSIVE? You see, I believe the vast majority of Americans are in strong agreement and once we discover this, the world will change for the better. Every person who falls into the trap of dismissing people with different labels is losing new friends, important allies and learning opportunities. For no good reason. None.
Closing thoughts about labels.
Far too many human beings have gotten in the habit of making assumptions based not upon a person’s actions but the labels they live under. Entire swaths of people will turn their back on an event, rally, convoy or questions & concerns if they are aligned with the wrong label, wrong group, wrong political party, etc. It’s the ultimate expression of a Litmus Test, which is great in chemistry and absolutely awful in human interactions. Rendering a person down to one single thought, one single opinion or value, one single element — as if the rest of them is irrelevant — is actually stupid. It’s also the pure, unadulterated expression of bigotry. And, I thought liberal progressive Democrats were anti-bigotry?
In effect, as we lean into labels, aren’t we sliding backwards into the tribalism and othering that birthed all the bigotry past generations have struggled to escape?
Of course, who doesn’t like the simplicity of Wedge Issues & Single Issue Voting? It’s attractive for busy people who want the world to run itself without them having to invest any energy! And utter BS, leaving us where we are today: increasingly closed minded, divided and easily conquered.
I suggest we all go out and make some friends who are not like us. Look outside our precious echo chambers! Take time to listen to WHY a person has a viewpoint that differs from our own. It will make our lives better. I promise.