Our Filing Systems

the labels we cling to

A World of evil

I wish life could be less complicated. How nice it would be if everything was explainable, well-organized, categorized and understandable.

I prefer to organize things into categories. It makes life easier when you can say to yourself, "this belongs in this box, and that belong in that box." In my mind I have a little chest of drawers where everything is organized into neat little folders with labels.

That's what academics do. They develop categories to define things. There is nothing wrong with trying to understand and figure out how things work and fit together into systems. That's how you get to find answers to questions and discover things.

It's human nature to try to organize and categorize in order to make sense of things, But when we put things into boxes and create classes, categories, principles, ideologies and doctrines we easily forget that everyone is an individual.

We categorize humanity... They are American or Italian or Russian or Chinese, male or female, yellow, red, brown, white or black, Jew, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Rastafarian, gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, Communist, Capitalist, Socialist or Liberal, right-wing, left-wing, short or tall, right or wrong, law-abiding or criminal, good or bad, etc etc.

The fact is that most of us are a mixture of many things and doesn't fit into any one category.

Years ago I was talking to a young idealist at the radio station in the capital of Greenland, Nuk. He was a native Inuit and had a bias against the Danish colonialists. I could appreciate his sentiments, because yes, the colonizing power had broken up the Eskimo culture by closing down many of the small settlements where the Inuits were hunting and fishing in self-sustaining communities, and they had re-settled them in square apartment blocks designed after Danish standards, trying to force a round peg into a square hole.

He also felt he needed to show solidarity with the Canadian indigenous people who had also been exploited and abused by white-skinned colonialists.

So yes, I had to agree with him on that score. Later on in our conversation I said something like, "Hey, yes, but you also know that there are bad Danes as well as bad Inuits, and there are some good and well-meaning Danes as well as good and well-meaning Inuits. We can't judge everyone with the same measure stick."

It's natural for us to hold on to our biases, to our prejudices, our anchors so to speak. We do this to make sense of a life that seem chaotic and random. But things doesn't always work that way.

When reading through the Gospels it seems Jesus rarely laid down strict rules or gave doctrinal guidelines (except when He met the Scribes and Pharisees, then He confounded them with their own doctrines). Jesus treated each person as an individual, and that's what we all are - unique creations made of many different elements and influences, our DNA, our environment, up-bringing, sun-sign, the choices we make etc.

There's a big difference between between logic and intuition. When we try to categorize and develop principles, laws and doctrines it's easy to loose our understanding of and compassion for the individual. I like to say, "you have to be led of the Spirit."

PS: It also reminds me of a song I unfortunately have lost the link to, it goes something like this...

It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong
It doesn't matter if you're weak or strong...
All that matters is if you have love in your heart"

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