Broken, (im)mature, ugly, insecure, beautiful, intelligent and classy.
These adjectives are labels which at some point in my life were used by others to define me. As I began to think on these adjectives, ideas came into my head. They bombarded one another with their particular relevancies. Ideas that expanded. Ideas that became more detailed with additional thought. Yet the prevalent question remained: How does one successfully approach this topic of labels?
After speaking with a few of my scholarly colleagues in the fields of culture and psychology, the decision was made to do a series surrounding the areas of labels which were foremost in the brainstorming session. In the research I came across the labelling theory, labels for women, labels for children and finally the limitations put on labelled persons. The plethora of information associated with this topic is enough to write a volume of scholarly work. Yet that would oppose the purpose of this blog, which is to inspire and provoke thought on intriguing topics.
Do not be fooled by the apparent simplicity of this Oscar Wilde quote, for it is more intriguing that it looks. These five powerful words express the power of labelling. Humans seek definition. Yet compartmentalization limits our opinions. The more humans try to go outside of the expected limits, the harder it becomes to define and label. Our nature is to label. It is our innate gift. Our understanding is based on what we know. Our limited comprehension is reflected in our perceptions of all situations. Therefore we continue to broaden our knowledge, our understanding and our perceptions and consequently go beyond our expected limitations.
Research in this topic also brought about the enigma of the labelling theory introduced by Howard Becker:
Labelling theory is the theory of how the self-identity and behaviour of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. It is associated with the concepts of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping.
Therefore the combination of labelling theory, self- fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping constitute the platform for this blog series of labels. The next issue of the blog will be concerned with the labelling of women. Primary research in the form of interviews will be the foundation of this issue. Interviewees will be asked to identify how people perceive them. In addition inquiries will be made as to what extent do these perception or labels define their character. The challenge this week is to compile five labels about yourself and then think deeply on the soul searching question: to what extent do these labels define you?
To my surprise St. Christopher is the patron saint of travellers. I did some research on the Saint the next church on my list is named after and found this picture:
So I found out that the service there began at 8:30 a.m. I piled my two sons into the car along with the necessities for church: baby bag, books, collection and an open mind and said the prayer for travellers before I left the driveway.
It was a fifteen minute drive to the picturesque south coast of the island of Barbados. The beautiful sea breeze wafted through the church as my children and I were ushered to our seats. Interestingly enough the priest sat among the congregation and the lay ministers did the bulk of the service. Before he sat, Reverend Guy explained to the congregation the steps to be taken when reading the Bible lessons. The consummate teacher of Religious Education did this in a very informative way and it was much appreciated by the members of the congregation.
The lay minister expounded upon the theme of assassination of character citing the fact that social media could be damaging to one’s reputation and once that is destroyed the victim has more or less nothing to live for. It was a relevant message which spoke to the happenings in the culture of Barbados and the rest of the world, for the defamation of persons’ characters is an issue of great concern. We as Christians are to be set apart for the world holds us at a high standard. We live in the world yet we are not part of the world. Our home is not of this world but of the world to come.
The experience was heartening and it was a wonderful journey to the South Coast of the island of Barbados. However, I must end on a thought provoking note. What are we as an Anglican Church doing to attract the 18 to 45 demographic? The congregation at St. Christopher’s Church is mostly composed of those who are retired. The children are there of course but in the next ten to twenty years where will the congregation be? Reverend Guy referred to the members of his congregation as the Saints and this point also stood out. The priests are either in retirement or reaching that stage of life. What can we do to attract younger women and men into the priesthood? In addition to suggestions of outreach programmes to the 18 to 45 age group, we can also embrace the interactive and digital age. We can use this same social media not to defame people’s character but to spread the Word of God. The church buildings are beautifully kept but we must also invest in the membership as were invest in the physical structure in which we worship.
In the Church we must be more encouraging. Instead of pointing out what is wrong first, let us highlight the strengths. Proverbs notes the strength of our words from the gentle answer turning away wrath to the power of life and death in the tongue. Our words must be set in gold and sweet as honey when we communicate across the generations. Gentleness and respect is the key to bringing more people into the Church. As we continue to be Beacons in our several communities, let us the good fight as we stand up for Jesus in this world in which we live!