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Why Do We Have To Label Everything And Every One

Enough with labels. Can't good people agree to disagree, and come to a meeting of the minds, in order to get needed things accomplished?

It's election season. Even if people that "into" the candidates or the issues, they realize an election is coming because the level of rhetoric, polarizing statements, and labelling is in full swing! Of course, we are used to big "D" Democrats and big "R" Republicans going after each other, as well as those that call themselves Liberals, Libertarians, 1-percenters, Tea Party members, and conservatives speaking out. But when is enough enough?

I understand politics, and was involved in my first political campaign back in the 1960's. But, I have witnessed a tremendous change. There was a time when most candidates were within 5-10% of the political middle, either to the right or to the left. Since most people would privately consider themselves moderates, that made some sense. It also made for an atmosphere where there was some room for political compromise, and some things got done. Especially in times of either international or domestic crisis, these politicians came together for the overall good of the country, and, at least, on a temporary basis, helped to unite the country. Don't get me wrong – people still disagreed – there just seemed to far more civility to the conversation. The last several years have brought about the most polarization in my lifetime. And, as a result, there has been far more political stagnation than ever before.

Everything political today seems to be about the label. We hear people banter around the words liberal and conservative as if they were some dreaded disease or social malady. And, what's even stranger is quite often those labelling themselves as Conservative are not so on fiscal issues (such as balancing budgets in a fiscally sane manner), and those claiming to be Liberal are not consistent in their approaches towards social or economic issues. Either way, however, merely labelling something doesn't make it so, and even then, doesn't make it bad. i recently used the word "activist" to describe people who took a stand and came out regarding the Main Street issue. Much to my surprise and chagrin, several people felt that activist was some sort of derogatory label, when it actually is simply a differentiation between the few that get involved and the vast majority that often act apathetically. So, what does this all mean?

Can't we all just try to get along? Can't we agree to disagree? Can't we seek common ground for the overall good? Can we stop using labels?

I hope so. When good people decide to try to agree, without blaming others and without anger, far more gets accomplished. It may be less entertaining, but it's generally far more productive.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Local Resident September 29, 2012 at 08:12 AM
You are being a bit disingenuous. In the article regarding Main Street, you used the term "activist oriented citizens" to group together a group of citizens who are against the rezoning of Main Street. Taking the high road after the fact is OK, but your comments above are misleading. Activist implies that we were (are) looking for a fight, when nothing could be farther from the truth. The rezoning proposal was FORCED onto us originally by RFMBPW and it is now being FORCED onto us by ToNH. Despite what RFMBPW / ToNH says, we, the community did not ask for it. Despite an overwhelming MAJORITY of people who have publically spoken out against the proposal, signed the petition, or even commented on these pages, the ToNH continues to push the plan. The ToNH supports the plan when, upon even the most preliminary review, the plan does not make sense in its most basic premise: development does not necessarily equal progress, and it certainly does not equal vitalization. So even though you claim to want to stop using labels, you in fact labeled us. Maybe not your intention, but still the same. And if we just agree to disagree, then Main Street will soon be a three-story, overdeveloped canyon with more traffic and parking concerns than currently exists. The only way Main Street will be beautified is for ToNH and RFMBPW to pull their heads out of the sand and work towards a plan that benefits the entire community and not just a few developers and contractors.
Richard Brody September 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM
It is unusual for someone who posts anonymously to claim someone is being "disingenuous" for correctly using a term. According to Dictionary.com, "activist" is defined as follows: noun 1. an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause. adjective 1. of or pertaining to activism or activists: an activist organization for environmental concern. 2. advocating or opposing a cause or issue vigorously, especially a political cause. Is this not what a well-intentioned group of individuals do when they feel strongly about an issue, and voice their concerns? Activism is a good thing, or at least should be considered such! At least make accusations when you properly interpret what I write! Agreeing to disagree does not mean abandoning a righteous fight or opposition. It means doing so without resorting to accusations and name-calling. Whether one agrees or disagrees, or likes or dislikes Mr. Kaiman or RFMBPW, it does not mean making accusations,being sarcastic and acting with little civility is the best approach. Unfortunately, all too often, Patch discussions become vitriolic, and that's not constructive. Stick to the point of the opposition(in this case the opposition has lots of validity).However,for Main St beautification to take hold,there needs to be a $$ commitment,and both TONH and opponents perhaps should both consider alternative approaches that fully address the needs. Thanks for your input.
Local Resident September 29, 2012 at 11:33 AM
I guess we may be finally on the same page. I don't dislike Mr. Kaiman or RFMBPW, but I do disagree with them on the rezoning issue. In particular, although I feel RFMBPW has done many good things for Port over the many years of their existence, I feel they have moved in a completely inappropriate manner with regards to Main Street. And although you may have used the term correctly according to the dictionary, there are implied meanings with correctly used terms. I did not make accusations above or in any of my posts, nor have I called any names, or labeled any person and/or group. I just found it ironic that in your original blog that you called for the end of labels and then referenced a post where you applied a label to a group of people.
Archie Bunker October 01, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Where is Rodney King when you need him? The great healer has failed to unite us

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