Labels

A few months ago, I accidentally shrunk one of Sam's favorite T-shirts which he was a little bummed about but I reminded him that if he did his own laundry, that would not have happened...(Mic Drop) In all fairness, he almost always does his own laundry.

Yesterday, he was busy trying to get packed up to move into his new apartment for the upcoming semester at school so I told him I would take care of his laundry...to which he replied.

"Thanks!  Oh, one thing...If you aren't going to read the labels then remember this, 'When in doubt, keep it out.' "  This is in reference to his shirts that need to be hung to dry, instead of put in the dryer!  Funny kid.  That's my new laundry motto.  Needless to say, I kept everything out of the dryer!  Ha ha!

Labels are pretty important, especially important when doing laundry, taking medication, sticking to a diet, using heavy equipment, pumping gas in your car...the list goes on.

Steven Covey wrote in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, about a paradigm shift.  He told a story of a man who got on a subway train with his three children.  The children were out of control, running up and down the aisle, bumping into people, being rowdy and undisciplined while the father ignored them.  After many fellow subway riders scowled at him, someone commented on the rowdy children.  The man apologized and explained that they had just come from the hospital where their mother had just died.  He was still in shock and filled with grief.  With a little understanding of the situation, the people around him, helped with the children and tried to occupy them on the ride.

Oftentimes, we are too quick to judge and label those around us and the things they do.

Between Christmas and New Years, I was asked to talk to a young girl who has been sick and having a hard time figuring out her nutrition.  I sat in a waiting room until I was invited to the room where she was meeting with her doctor.  Her father sat beside me and began telling me a little about his daughter.  He had no idea who I was or that I was even going to be involved with his daughter.  At some point in our conversation, he asked where I was from and I told him Canada.  His reply was, "Oh good.  I was afraid you were going to say you were from here.  This area has too many Mormons living here.  I hate Mormons.  They are the reason my daughter got sick. The Mormon kids wouldn't stop bullying her."

I felt sick as he spoke.  Obviously, I wasn't about to admit to being a Mormon, I just let him talk out his anger.  I agreed that people today, can be very intolerant and it is inexcusable.

That exchange has been bothering me ever since.   I thought about how often we label people...religiously or otherwise.

The fat one looks so lazy.
That skinny girl thinks she's all that.
He's that rich kid who drives his dad's BMW.
That's what you get when you're a smoker.
Look at that girl with those dreadlocks.
What did you think he was going to be like with all those piercings?

 Why is it that we just can't let people be people and save the labels for sorting laundry?  Not all people who smoke are going to end up with lung cancer.  Not all people with piercings do bad things.  Not all rich kids are snobs.  Skinny people can be extremely insecure and fat people are often the hardest workers.

None of us are perfect.  I bet we would all be ashamed at the secret things we have done that we aren't proud of.  Live and learn...whatever happened to that concept?  We can't allow ourselves or each other the privilege of learning life's lessons, for good or for bad, without being labeled and banished for all time? We all do it but it needs to stop.



For the record, Mormons are no better or perfect than anyone else.  I'm not sure where that rumor got started and why it gathers strength.  We are all here, struggling right alongside the next guy.  We don't have it all figured out.  Our religion has some strict guidelines, and as members, we are held to high standards of obedience, but it's a standard, something we strive for, and more often than not, we fall short.  We do or say stupid things.  We make mistakes...big mistakes even.  We experience a crisis of Faith, a wondering about it all, we wrestle with who we are, why we are here and most importantly, every day, we try again to be better...not perfect.

I just think it's a good thing to remember, no matter who you are, where you've been, what you've experienced in life...none of us are above or below each other and it would be a life changing thing to live in this way and be patient as we bump into each other, just trying to survive whatever chapter of life they find themselves in.  Maybe we could all remember Sam's laundry motto in life before we judge and label each other...When in doubt, leave it out. 

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