No More Labels!


rak-blue2A few days ago, in moment of complete silliness, I decided to go live on FaceBook and share my experience regarding the use of Chick-Fil-A sauce on a 10 pack of McDonald’s Chicken nuggets. I figured a few people would witness me making a fool of myself but to my surprise, that cheesy video has had nearly 700 views since I posted it.

Though I may have saved some fast foodie the disappointment I encountered when I realized there is no such thing as a poor man’s Chick-Fill-A, the video served absolutely no purpose. But it did leave me wondering what would be possible if you could use that same exposure for something beneficial to all of us.

Over the last few years I have become increasingly frustrated by the way, we (me included) as human beings act towards each other. Specifically how we seem to put people in a box and then label them. Once labeled, we make many generalizations about them as though we already know all the personal details about how they think or act.

The problem is that labels are nothing more than a generalization. If you are conservative, you must be a racist, misogynistic bigot and only care about money. If you are a liberal, you eat granola, drive a Prius and want everything handed to you for free. The trouble with labels is that they are extremely nonspecific, they are simply a way to quickly identify a group with no real knowledge of the individual. It’s no different than the labels we use on our computers. There’s a label for pictures, desktop and documents, to name a few. Not all the pictures in your picture files are the same. Each picture is unique. It has a unique subject, color and story to tell. That’s what makes photography so fun, each picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, placing a label on people or things doesn’t work. It’s the nuances and the details that make a difference. Each picture, just like each individual is different. Each picture offers us a different perspective of a subject and if you took the time to get to know all the people in whatever group you have labeled, they will offer you a new perspective as well.

There are so many boxes that we put each other in. Black, white, brown, straight, gay, transgender, bi-sexual, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, male, female, short, tall, smart, stupid, jock, geek etc. etc.  It’s as though as adults we never left the cliques we formed in high school! We tell our kids that we shouldn’t assume we know ___________ just because___________.  Then we fail to take our own advice and make many ASS U ME tions ourselves.  It’s no wonder our kids don’t always heed our hypocritical advice.

I for one am tired of being labeled. I may “identify” with a certain group(s) but that’s where it ends. Just because I identify with the group doesn’t mean that I agree with EVERYTHING the group believes. As an individual, I reserve the right to make up my own mind and speak my own truth. If you took the time to know me, it would be impossible for you to put a label on all my thoughts, beliefs and opinions and I am willing to bet that the same could be said of you.

So in a world where we all are supposed to “fit” in a box and where there is so much anger, jealousy, judgement and resentment, how can we get back to respecting and helping one another regardless of which “label” you belong to?

In my opinion it’s time for good people to step up. It’s time to erase the labels and destroy the boxes that we have been put into by society, the government and the media. It’s time to love and care for one another and spread goodwill.

How? Through Random Acts of Kindness. Open a door for a stranger, take a cart back to the store, leave an extra big tip to a deserving server, pick up the tab for the car behind you at your favorite drive though, spend time with the lonely, let someone skip you in line at the supermarket. Do something, do anything. It doesn’t matter how big or small, just do something.

Have you ever been on your way to work and someone cut you off in traffic? Then, even though you were in a good mood, that one person set you off and for the rest of the day nothing seemed to go your way? It’s happened to all of us. But here is the good news, it can work the other way too. If someone receives a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) it will unexpectedly brighten their day and in turn they will smile more, laugh more and be just a little less tense, on edge and ready to explode when something doesn’t go their way. And maybe, if we are lucky, that simple random act of kindness that you showed them will be repeated over and over again by them to others.

The best part about Random Acts of Kindness is that they are random! You will have absolutely NO IDEA who it is that you are being kind to, it will be completely random. Because of this, people that belong to one label or another, may be showing kindness to people of another label with no judgement from either side.

One of the things that we all have in common, is that we belong to the human race. If we erased all the labels and simply identified ourselves human, then took the time to gain and offer true perspective about the individual, the world would be a much better place to live.

Since you have made it all the way to this point, I’d like to challenge you to perform 3 Random Acts of Kindness. If you accept my challenge, here are the rules:

Complete 3 Random Acts of Kindness in 24 hours.

1) No act is too big or too small. Pick up a tab, leave an extra-large tip, open a door or simply lend an ear to a stranger. The choice is yours, use your imagination!

2) When you complete the challenge, share your story by writing or posting a video on your favorite social platform. Make sure to tell us how it made YOU FEEL to offer Random Acts of Kindness to strangers.

3) If you are the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness, post your story and let the world know how receiving such kindness made YOU FEEL and how it changed your day.

4) Nominate 3 other people to take the Random Acts of Kindness Challenge.

Good luck! I’m excited to hear your stories!

Kevin Messerschmidt-

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