I’ve never seen our country so divided. My heart breaks at the lengths people are going to in the us vs. them battles: Republican vs. Democrat, Black vs. White, Pro-Law Enforcement vs. Anti-police and those who believe COVID is a pandemic vs. those who don’t. Where once crossing the congressional aisle was sound politics, now it’s seen as traitorous. People are expected to get in one corner or the other.

This madness has to end. And how do we do this? We stop labeling and we quit teaching our children to label others who are different from us. We must be aware of our reactions and our thoughts when we encounter anyone who appears to be our polar opposite. We need to change old, tired scripts and look for our commonality and humanity instead of dwelling on our differences.

Labels distance us from others

Labels create stereotypes and lead us to judge others, erecting an invisible barrier between those like us and those who make us nervous, fearful or question our beliefs and values. It all seems so simple—put others in neat little boxes so you can tell yourself they aren’t as human as you. That they don’t feel like you do. So, when something bad happens to them, you can convince yourself that they deserve it.

I’ll use myself as an example of the kinder areas people would like to stow me in:

  • White
  • Christian
  • Nature Lover
  • Believer in the Supernatural
  • Childless Woman
  • Straight

But these parts do not begin to authentically portray who I am—my experiences, strengths, weaknesses, epiphanies, capacity to love others and myself, and to graciously receive love.

I’m much more than a string of words. And, so is everyone else.

You could take those six labels and apply them to many women who are nothing like me. To drain the power out of stereotypes, we have to get rid of labels. Even my closest friends, whom I share a lot of commonalities with, are not like me. So, if none of us is identical—why would people in another stereotyped group all be the same?

Choose not to feed into negativity. Instead be a beacon of light, love and positivity.

We can only start with ourselves to make lasting change. Please join me in altering our future to one where we respect each other.