Great concept for identifying the contents of something packaged, right? Whenever there’s a need to describe something, that has been compounded, constructed, assembled, gathered, or crafted from various components, ingredients, or raw materials into a completely new product. Everything consumable is properly labeled, so we can effectively sort through the oceans of skews on the multitudes of shelves, lining the endless forests of isles filling the retailers massive expanses of brick and mortar facilities. If we are to eat, wear, use, or even display something as ornamental, labeling gives us insight to what’s behind the finished product. It’s a handy mechanism for sharing with our fellow humans without a tremendous amount of confusion. It’s transferable to any language, culture, or social barrier. Even the fine folks of North Korea accept labels as beneficial. 

Unfortunately, humans use this very same logic for identifying each other. Remember that commentary from a previous post about humans irreducible need to connect and belong? Labels are also the way we navigate differences in appearance, beliefs and behaviors. It starts with race, or skin color, whereas we immediately identify the differences of how we look from the outside. Dark to light, and all shades in between. I laughingly refer to it as “varying shades of negro” not in jest of dark skinned people, but rather the fact we all started from the same African origin. At that point, we were in all likelihood, the same color. Today, we have a much wider range of skin tones, as we’ve adapted to climate variations around the planet, as we migrated to the various land masses. So, labeling that with races became necessary to some degree to maintain that need to belong. 

As we adapted to the various land masses from this massive migration, we gradually transitioned into societies, which prompted the need for the development of language skills. More people, more tribes, more need for that connection and belonging. Much more difficult to feel connected as one of a thousand, than one of a hundred. The survival mechanism within our species had broadened from simply existing, to flourishing. 

Fast forward that concept a million years, or 29,000 generations to today. The very same methodology has expanded exponentially to the thousand plus cultures (social evolution of tribes) encompassing the earth. We identify the differences in our species based upon the multitude of adaptations experienced through this process of migration from a common source. Does this truly represent a vast differential existing within our species, or simply the perrifriel variations we’ve gained by circumstantial adaptations? Do medical schools sort their curriculum based upon external variations, or dismiss that notion for a biological basis we all conform to?

  • I write this piece today from a conversation I recently had with a friend about politics. The labels of “Liberal vs Conservative” rings loudly in the election season. The two sides entrenched in their battle of ideology, promote their understanding as what’s best for everyone, yet no one stops to recognize how small a part of the individual that represents. Exasperating the inherent need to belong, we create conflict at a very fundamental level. Conflict, I might add, that only came about with the development of social order. Must we hate to feel connected, so we belong to something bigger…?



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