Labels are typically a very useful way of conveying a more complicated idea with a simple word or two. However, this practice opens the door for those who are full of hate and fear, allowing them to invent a response.
The label of “Atheist” is one that borders upon pointless and almost shouldn’t exist. It represents a falsifiable position of not believing in any gods. That’s it. It’s the opposite of “Theist,” which is a label representing those who do believe in a god or gods.
This should be simple enough.
However, people who are full of hate and fear have an odd, yet effective strategy.
Baggage Loading is what I call it when someone adds things to your self-prescribed label that are not a part of that label.
I’ll stick with the label of “Atheist” for the sake of keeping this simple. I have given the clear definition above. I don’t believe in any gods. It’s very simple.
However, those full of fear and hate — typically Christians and Republicans — will engage in baggage loading, in an effort to sully the label so that they can attack the label based on the fact that it is sullied by their own baggage.
In other words, they make up their own definition of what it means.
I have been told that it means a great number of other things:
- I have no morality.
- I’m okay with killing, stealing, and general crimes against Humanity.
- I worship Satan.
- I practice witchcraft.
- I’m less-than-human.
When they do this to a label, it allows them to point a finger, pass judgment, and even engage in cruelty. Some of the baggage they attach to it also serves to dehumanize others. When other people are dehumanized, it makes it easier for them to enslave, kill, or otherwise engage in amoral behaviors against their “enemy.”
This has been my experience throughout my life. Oddly enough, it never encouraged me to go to church or to try to believe.
THE YOUTUBE DAYS
I made Atheist videos on YouTube from 2009-2011. I ended up stopping for a few reasons, one being that I had taken a job with a Tech firm. Part of their hiring process is to scan the internet to look for any videos I might have uploaded.
The other reason was that I got tired of a few things associated with the people who would challenge me. There were the death threats, which I took in stride, from self-declared “good Christians.” There was the fact that they could not discuss the bible because they didn’t read it. As one person told me, “I don’t need to READ it, when I BELIEVE it.”
But I think the most frustrating thing of all was their focus on the definition of the label.
For a while, I worked to drop the label. I would say, “If my label is causing you some confusion, then I can clear that up. I can drop MY label, and simply say that I’m not the person who is buying what you’re selling. Can you drop YOUR label?”
ABUSING ONE’S OWN LABEL
Of course they can’t drop their label, for it is everything to them. It’s where they hide, in the darkness. Try calling them out if they rip you off, lie to you, or do anything horrible. They’ll clutch their pearls and declare, “But I’m a good Christian! How dare you!”
This is usually followed by their declaration that I am some kind of evil person, before I am dismissed. I had a mechanic do this to me 28 years ago, and it prompted me to never again do business with anyone or any company that is based in Christianity.
The label is a shield for their own dishonesty and darkness.
MY PERSONAL ABOLITION OF LABELS
I have decided that I am going to try my best to avoid using labels to describe myself, since it gives the other person to redefine what I’ve said, my positions, or even how I live. They just strap on some baggage, and you know the rest.
I cannot control others, but I can control how I approach others.
What this means is that I will use their self-applied label as the baseline for my expectations.
So if someone has to tell me that they’re a “good Christian,” I don’t buy it at face value. Instead, I look for the things that might constitute a “good Christian.”
Okay, calling yourself a “good Christian” is the move of an ego maniac. But I’ll look for how they talk, how they carry themselves, and how they treat others. My expectation is utter hypocrisy, and I have yet to be disappointed.
IN THE END
My expectation of others, with regard to labels, is simple.
Don’t TELL me what you are.
SHOW me who you are.
Someone had asked me if I believed that I am a good person. Most people would probably just answer with “yes,” which is the same as applying a label to one’s own self.
I couldn’t answer that question in this way. I didn’t want a label, and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. So I gave them the best answer that I could.
“It is not up to be to determine whether or not I’m a ‘good person.’ This assessment is up to those with whom I interact. It is not up to me to make the determination of whether or not I am a good person. You will have to interact with me, observe me, and then let me know what you think. Just understand that your opinion of me is none of my business, so I’d prefer that you keep this opinion to yourself.