“I believe we can all come together because if you take away the labels, you realize we’re far more alike than we are different.” — Ellen DeGeneres
Google has come out with their annual “Year in Search” video, and it has a portion of that quote in it. Ever since that trend started with Zeitgeist, I’ve watched every one of the videos, and I’ve even shared them with family and friends. Sometimes a topic comes up, and I decide to pull up the video on my phone. Sometimes I email it.
What made this video so different, was the above quote. I’ve watched the video 3 times today, and that quote has been replaying in my head like It’s a Small World does when you visit Disneyland.
I’m only 19. I haven’t been around that long, but the drastic changes I’ve seen around me have been amazing and almost unbelievable. We’ve grown into a society that puts labels on everything. And no, I’m not talking about your pickle jar, or a bottle of Advil. I’m talking about us. Humans.
It’s funny how many subdivisions of that word there are. Last week and into this week, I’ve been filling out a couple job applications, and it amazes me how, in every one, they all say there is no discrimination against your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and many more I can’t recite without having an actual application in front of me.
Now, I realize that companies have to do that, and I suppose it’s a good thing. It’s good to know a company will still consider hiring me despite the fact that I’m a white, christian, conservative, straight, male just trying to get a job. I’m glad that the United States has come to the point where labels don’t matter. Or do they?
See, the problem with labels, is that it creates a divide among us. I’m speculative that some who just read the labels I attached to myself clicked away simply because of said labels. Maybe some will even unfollow me on social media when I share this there.
But back to the point…the divide among us. If I’m a Republican, it’s automatically assumed I support Trump and am racist. If I’m a Liberal, it’s automatically assumed (since I’m in college too) I supported Bernie Sanders. If I’m a Christian, it’s automatically assumed that I hate Muslims. If I was Muslim, it would be automatically assumed by some that I am out to bomb the United States and anyone who isn’t Muslim.
The mainstream media is the worst label maker ever. It attaches these labels to people, and thus a divide is created. If a Republican does something wrong, all Republicans are bad. If a radical Muslim attacks, all Muslims are a threat to safety.
If only we stopped to realize that each and every one of us breaths the same air, and live on the same rock orbiting a super hot gas mass out in the middle of space. We have blood pumping through our veins. Despite our race, gender, sexual orientation, political preference, or age, our blood is still red (no, it’s not blue…sorry). Despite all these labels that “define” who we are and add “diversity” to our countries, we’re still human underneath. Being human is the foundation of every label we’ve put on everyone else.
I just finished watching “Sully”, the movie about the extraordinary acts of Chesley Sullenberger. The stories say that New York’s finest came together in 24 minutes to pull of an amazing feat: saving 155 passengers from a plane that landed in the Hudson river. 24 minutes to save 155 people. Chesley didn’t think about whether the people on his plane were male or female, black or white, gay or straight, right or left. He cared that each of them was safe because each of them was a life that he promised he’d take care of up there at 30,000 feet.
It amazes me how quickly we forget this fact. We plaster each other with label after label and the divide only gets bigger. If only we took them off, we’d realize how many things we actually have alike.
I was driving to my apartment after a late night at work a couple days ago. I had just exited the freeway, and I saw a vehicle on the side of the road about to enter a gas station. Without thinking, I pulled up behind them, and turned on my flashers. I got out of my car, not thinking about the fact that I left the keys in the ignition, and walked up to the driver window. A mother and her daughter were inside.
I asked the mother if they were alright, and her daughter said she didn’t speak very good english. It turned out they had run out of gas just in front of a pump. They didn’t know they could still put the car in neutral and push it from the back, so I offered to show them. I hopped in the driver seat and explained what I was doing. We got the car pushed off the side of the road, but not close enough to the pump. That was when the daughter called AAA. Speaking in Arabic, I assume she explained what the situation was. I decided to make sure traffic was behaving behind my car while she talked.
AAA arrived, and got the car just enough gas to drive to the pump. I drove home that night smiling to myself about the fact that I didn’t even know these people’s name, nor did they know mine, yet they trusted me enough to sit in their vehicle and help them.
I don’t tell this story to credit myself. That’s not my intention. Fame and credits are just another label. I tell this story, because the power of human connection is amazing. When we come together despite our differences, the extraordinary happens. When we put labels aside, and help a stranger out because they’re human, it shows we can improve.
I’m not a republican or a democrat. I don’t support Trump. I don’t support Sanders or Hillary. I’m not white or black, christian or atheist. I am human.
This holiday season, if you happen to celebrate by unwrapping presents, think about unwrapping the labels off someone you don’t get along with. You might just find you’re more alike than you are different.