If you read my blog, you know that I have been struggling with a label.  Am I Humanist?

I've been reading and watching and thinking and musing and whatnot and, sure, I agree with so much of the tenets of those who call themselves Humanist or Secular Humanist.  So what.  I realize it's not that big of a deal.

The other day I was listening to a podcast that had a wonderful interview with Neil DeGrasse-Tyson talking about this EXACT THING.

Like, isn't it amazing and serendipitous when you are thinking about a thing and the next thing you know NPR or someone is doing a segment on it.  It was weird and great like that.

He was talking about why he does not espouse an 'ism' or an  "ist".  It's the very reason why I am having trouble with labels at all. 
As soon as anyone knows your "label", they can claim to understand where you are coming from.  You are immediately pigeon-holed and filtered and fitted with your "beliefs" by the person with whom you are speaking.  You are immediately seen as having a set of things for which you stand.  What you love.  What you hate.  What you criticize.  What you support.
Besides, most "isms" are shallow and hate-based.

I find myself living in the "gray" areas of life.  In the spaces between things.  I can't claim to be either Republican or Democrat.  Liberal or Conservative.  Friendly but shy.  Sensitive or indifferent.  Confident but insecure.  Enlightened and biased.  Dingy or deep.
Maybe I should consider calling myself a Dichotomous Freak of Nature.

My point is, if a person knows me as an atheist, and most people do know me this way, they make assumptions about who I am and what I stand for that may or may not apply to me.

We are all complicated beings.  We have our own personal filters.  Our histories that move us in many directions at once.  Our cathected ideas and objects.  Personal injuries, emotional and otherwise.  Those things that fill us with excitement and passion.
We are simply TOO COMPLEX to allow any "ism" to define us.
And I say we embrace that.
Today.
Today we stop using "isms" and "ists".

I have already begun, actually.
I was talking with my sister about this tonight.  (Well, sort of about this...)  I would say that we all have a degree of being friendly, unfriendly, sensitive, indifferent.
In fact, I believe it is these very dichotomous natures within me that allow me to have compassion and respect for many people with whom I disagree.  I can appreciate the even and the odd, the dark and the light, the easy and the difficult, the  self aware and the unenlightened.

And why not?  Viva La' different!

And that statement in other languages too!

The Greeks, way back at Delphi, graffitied on their walls "Know Thyself".

γνῶθι σεαυτόν


 All through history philosophers have talked about the wisdom of knowing one's self.  Plato, for goodness sake, made the phrase his own personal catch phrase!
And my favorite philosophical writer from the last two hundred years or so, Ralph Waldo Emerson, frequently wrote about the need to know the self within.

So, I have decided to take Dr. DeGrasse-Tyson's lead and NOT label myself further.
I AM a homeschooling parent and I AM an atheist.

Beyond that, hey, I'm a rolling stone...

 

Check out my blog at:  http://taytayhser.blogspot.com/

Views: 40

Tags: atheist, humanist, labels

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Comment by Kris King on September 20, 2011 at 6:37pm

I think labels have their uses - they can be very convenient ways of quickly identifying something when it is often useful to do so but, as you say, there's a lot of baggage that comes with them and people tend to group people unfairly using labels, but I think it's more a problem with people in general than the simple words we attach to things.

The trouble is we are not only more than a label, we are more than ONE label, and the ones we use depend upon to what we are referring.  If I'm talking about my religious beliefs, I'm an agnostic atheist.  Politcally, I'm somewhere to the left.  Sexually, I'm bisexual.  Biologically, I'm a human male.

I don't have too much of a problem with labels, so long as they are used and understood correctly and appropriately, and too much emphasis is not placed upon them.

Comment by Paul Short on September 20, 2011 at 5:50am
I have heard him say this more than once. He is too awesome.

I, too, struggle with labels, good to hear your struggle is over :)

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