Watching Super Soul Sunday a few weeks ago Oprah and Adyashanti discussed a quote by philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti “The day you teach the child the name of the bird, the child will never see that bird again.” What do you see? Can you still see the bird?
Beyond Names And Labels
Labels can indeed be empowering, but they can also be limiting—to you and others. That’s right, to you too. Using the analogy above there are thousands of species of birds, each of which is unique. So if you are too quick to label and therefore define someone as pretty, ugly, fat, thin, gay, straight and so on you may not see them for who they are as an individual. This may hurt you more than them because you will miss out on an opportunity to get to know an amazing and unique person. In many ways, your label removes their humanity.
We Can All Be Labeled In Many Ways
Another problem with consciously or subconsciously sorting people by labels is that we all have many labels. Our culture, religion, gender, the region of the country we live in, our career, level of education, and more. These are all labels that we may assign to others, but it doesn’t mean that we should define or make decisions about these labels. For example, not everyone who grew up in the south likes fried food and yes you will find down to earth people in big cities. As trivial as those might be most of us gather these labels and create a narrative about people we know nothing about. Problems arise when they show us otherwise, but we can’t see beyond the way we have labeled them—or they become the exception to our rule.
Even though birds of a feather might have much in common, they are beautiful in their own way. Not to worry. If you have stopped seeing the individuality of the bird, or the person, you can start to shift your perception.