Labelling. How many labels were attached to you during the course of your living? Fat, stupid, shy, unorganised, mean..the examples are limitless. And sadly, most of us start getting labelled from our childhood.
After my latest service visit with a group of my students I went home with a ghosted mind. It wasn’t the poverty, the sicknesses or the horrible living conditions that shacked me this time. It was the frames.
“My son was just telling me that he doesn’t care about the trip, all he wished for was to have his father alive,” the widow declared. Suppressing my tears and trying to balance between sounding strong and empathetic I asked: “What’s the relation between the trip and his father who passed away five years ago?” “The trip was organised to celebrate the ‘Orphans’ Day’. And he no longer wants to hear this word,” she explained. It was my first time to see it that way. I thought that labelling was limited to negative attributes people associate to us and we grow believing it’s our reality. What I never considered was that the reality itself might become a label which hurts, frustrates and angers us.
The nine-years-old boy’s story occupied the back of my mind for days. I caught myself many times thinking of him and his future. Growing up in a place where people would care for him because he’s an orphan and while he feels stabbed because of this reality, would he ever be able to find peace?
I started to think of Fatma, one of my main characters in Fabulous Veils. ‘The pirate’, her husband called her after she lost an eye due to his domestic violence. How did this label affect her? She never shared this part of her true story. Was she experiencing similar emotions like the orphan we visited? Would this word be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
My action-oriented-mind started to wander. Sending letters to people in powerful positions was one of the ideas I got. Begging them to change the titles of the Orphans’ Day, the Mother’s Day, the Cancer Patients Day, the People with Disabilities Day and any title that would frame people’s minds and entrap their souls. “Labels distort people’s reality and create deformed versions of the beautiful human beings they were meant to become,” my inner voice shouted.
Are we aware of the impact of our words on others? Words, not labels, not insults, just words which we consider neutral while they aren’t? ‘Human’ would be the one label I would assign to a child, an adult, a day.. this is the way I choose to see others, my Fabulous Veils characters and my days on planet Earth.
“Every human has something to offer this world; the question is will we create a society that can see everyone’s worth?” – Michael T. Coe