The Label


Labadee, Haiti
Paradise or Paradise Lost? Labadee, Haiti 2015

Do you know why people and groups tend to generalize, categorize, and derogatorily label others? It’s because it is easier and we can hide behind our literary devices – our words and actions without much repercussion.

Let’s use the recent US election as an example:

Can you differentiate between a political leader and a party platform? Can you differentiate between those who support a party leader and those who support a party platform in whole or in part? I think NOT. Individuals and even groups CANNOT be easily defined into one particular category or another and/or labelled with derogatory labels in any ethical or moral way. To do so is to promote conflict and division. That’s what politics and politicians do – divide and conquer.

Does that mean we should stop describing (and holding accountable) individuals or groups according to their public statements or actions? Absolutely not! But if we resort to derogatory labelling of those that we disagree with, then we become JUST LIKE the very people we seek to criticize and hurt.

Sound familiar? We ALL do it. I have a number of posts on FaceBook and WordPress that use categories and sometimes derogatory labels to describe others.  My favourite method of communication is to use satire.

Satire can be defined as:

The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Wow! Our literature and language has devices to legitimize categorizing and to use negative and derogatory labels to get our point across. Poets and poetry are infamous for taking shots across someone else’s bow with little or no consequence. After all, it’s just a poem. It’s just artistic expression. I didn’t mean anything by it 😉

Writers, on the other hand are often forced to reveal their real intentions. Yes, we can hide behind our words, and their historical versus present day meaning. We can also hide behind various forms of literary devices such as satire, but the sheer volume of our words often reveal the methods and motives behind our madness 🙂

Photographers, especially documentary photographers, are masters of disguising their real agendas. Whether they realize it or not, a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words, and can be used in a myriad of ways to present truth or deceit in any which way the photographer chooses.

So what’s my point? Simple, I want YOU to be aware as a poet, writer, photographer, etc., that we have powerful tools in our hands to do good or to do evil.  My hope is that you will choose the way of good and NOT the dark side of the force. Please consider being ethical and moral in that which you present to our world. We will all be better for it.

The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow.


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