Hell on Earth
We are facing many challenges at this time. Much of the world is in poverty, people are spiritually, emotionally, and mentally lacking, war is constantly on the brink of breaking out, and many other issues plague us. Have you ever stopped to think why things are the way they are? Why is America struggling with obesity while other countries have many dying of starvation? Why do people die from curable diseases when there is more than a sufficient amount of medicine? Why are we constantly pillaging the earth, treating it as an entity who needs not respect? Why do we condemn billions of animals a year to death, as if they have no real right to life? Begin to think on these things. In the meantime, I will be providing one answer in this article.
As I’m sure you know, labels are words that are used to distinguish things from one another. Labels placed upon me are African-American, black, heterosexual, male, agnostic, educated, American, independent (political party), young adult, tall, human, and many more. These labels are placed upon me to both assist others, and myself, in figuring out how to place judgement upon me and relate me to themselves. It is my opinion that the misuse of and value we place upon labels is a large contributor to many of the concerns and troubles the world is currently facing.
Whenever someone is labeled as different from you an amazing thing happens. It suddenly becomes a lot easier to disassociate that person from us. This can then lead to a loss of empathy and respect for that person. This is due to the ego, which takes great pride in the self. Anything that is not of immediate resemblance of the self is now under question and potentially disposable. Take a moment to really think on this. Do you not find it easier to mourn over the lose of an individual whom looks and lived like you, than to mourn over the lose of a person in a foreign country whose livelihood is unfamiliar to you? Do you have an easier time sympathizing with police officers whose lives were lost in the #BlueLivesMatter movement or African-American individuals whose lives were lost in the #BlackLivesMatter movement? Think on these questions with sincerity and depth. Being a black male myself, I’ve had an easier time sympathizing with the #BlackLivesMatter movement simply because I am very familiar with the black struggle and black people. But do you see the conflict in this? The valuing of certain labels makes it easier to devalue opposing labels.
“We identify ourselves with a particular country – India, England, Germany, Russia, America. You think of yourself as a Hindu. Why? Why do you identify yourself with India? Have you ever looked at it, gone behind the words that have captured your mind? Living in a city or a small town, leading a miserable life with your struggles and family quarrels, being dissatisfied, discontented, unhappy, you identify yourself with a country called India. This gives you a sense of vastness, of importance, a psychological satisfaction, so you say, “I am an Indian; and for this you are willing to kill, to die or be maimed.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
The Labeling of Nature
These labels apply to our environment as well. The labeling of all living things other than human as plant or animal creates a great divide. Viewing the Earth as lacking intelligence or consciousness creates an even greater problem. We often see plants, animals, and even the Earth as inferior to human beings. This makes the moral decision to dominate over them easier to handle. We kill masses of animals to eat, due to minor inconveniences, and for mere fun. We cut down billions of trees each year, ravage the lands with our developments, and fill the atmosphere, lands, and waters with a variety of chemicals and pollutants. We show utter disrespect to the world outside of humans, for we fail to acknowledge the life in it. We fail to see the inter-connectedness of the human and the world around “him”.
The Power Struggle
Now this is where things get tricky. I’m sure you are familiar with power and how it works. People attain power through the controlling of resources, inducing fear, perpetrating violence, mis-education, and other means. The use of labels makes it that much easier for someone to attain power. This goes back to the idea of having an easier time disconnecting from someone who is labeled as different from you. Once this connection is broken, a potential enemy or barrier to their growth in power is presented. Therefore, it’s now a lot easier to destroy or debilitate those groups which are unlike you in order to promote your agenda. Taking a quick look at American history prevents several of the various ways this power struggle took place. Just about every “race” that is not white suffered under the creation of America. The Natives were subject to a mass genocide over the course of several hundred years. African-American’s were enslaved for centuries, seen as less than human. Those who identify as Asian and Latinx also suffered various indecencies throughout their histories with America. Women are treated as an inferior being, regardless of race. Christianity was pushed upon individuals and is seen as the country’s religion, even though we take pride in our ability to choose whatever religion we want. Anyone who was not heterosexual was condemned and seen as subhuman. This list continues. But you can see the more labels which we associate value to, the more groups of people find themselves being negatively influenced. So, it is clear in this day and age that the image of power is white, male, heterosexual, Christian, typically older in age, able-bodied, educated, and wealthy. The list can continue to be narrowed down. The great dilemma comes when the distinctions become so definitive that there are only a handful of people or 1 individual who holds almost all of the “power”. This individual will have so many tools of power at his disposal and everyone who is not him is beneath him. They have found clear differences in everyone except themselves, therefore no one is safe from their reach. Eventually, a time will come where they will have a crucial decision to make. Do they kill the world to save themselves, or kill themselves to save the world?
It’s also important to note that people whom do not hold this “power” but can affiliate themselves with one or several of the key labels tied to those in power which will build a sense of power within themselves. Here’s a brief example. Let’s say that those whom
have perceived power in the fake country Newzila tend to be women, of brown complexion, Buddhist, short, great fighters, and excellent orators. Now suppose that being a woman and a great fighter are the two most important factors. As an individual in Newzila, I can see in myself that I am a woman that fights decently, and I’m pretty short. I’ve found ways to connect myself to the people in power, giving myself a perception of power which does not actually exist. However, I will exercise this perceived power in the ways that I interact with others. I will look at men, people who can’t fight, and individuals who are taller than me as less than. I will feel a sense of superiority over them which will strengthen the divide and increase the power of those who are above me. And likewise, the country of Newzila itself will look down on other nations whom do attain some of these labels within its masses or leadership. This puts us in a perpetual cycle of one-upmanship. A cycle that gives us great pride in saying, “I’m better than Sarah, because I’m beautiful. I’m better than Nigerians because I’m an American. I’m better than 95% of the world because I’m wealthy.” There shall be no peace or love among us with this mentality.
Begin dismantling the value you associate with some of the labels you place on people. Do this one at a time. Choose a label which you view as negative and begin to break down why you see it as a negative and how you could see it as a positive. If you are homophobic, you can easily start to figure out the reasons as to why you feel this way. It could be due to religious beliefs, experiences growing up, or from conditioning through media and education. Begin to tear down those boundaries and place significance to those in the LGBTQ community. This could lead to you looking at this community as a brave people who are able to express themselves in whatever way they feel fit. Now of course this is just example, but this process can work for whatever label. The next step will be to then take the new vision you have of that label and apply it to everyday life. This will be the hardest part, but if done…you will see the world in new beauty.
The ultimate goal will be to eliminate many of these labels completely. However, this is a something that will come in time and will need to take place on a mass scale. It is important to do what you can with what you have, which is why I am not asking you to totally eliminate the labeling of people and things. That is simply unrealistic at this time.