Last night, tbV and I ended up in this room at the back of a Games/Magic the Gathering shop playing some new [to us] games.
With titles such as Poison, Dixit and Takenoko, we ‘moved the panda and ate the bamboo’, ‘avoided the poison’ and came up with the clue ‘Rapunzel’ to describe a card that showed a number of knotted sheets tied together leading out of a prison window with its bars cut out.
I know, Geek Central, right?
Or was it? Because the ‘geeks’ I was referring to definitely didn’t include Val and myself.
When we label people, we rob them of the ability to be something else.
When we categorise someone we meet as a ‘jock’ or a ‘blonde,’ an ‘Aquarius’ or a ‘hottie’ and especially as we cross a more substantial line and start throwing out titles such as ‘racist’ or ‘bitch’ or ‘murderer’ or ‘rapist’ to refer to or describe someone, we subtly remove the possibility or at least the likelihood in our minds, and possibly in those of our hearers, of them being anything else apart from that.
Is he ‘a rapist’ or is he a broken and messed up human being? A person who, for whatever reasons, ended up committing the horrific act of rape?
Am I born ‘a racist’? Or as I grow up, and are natured and nurtured along the way, do I at some point start to exhibit racist tendencies, thoughts and actions?
Am I born a ‘murderer’? Or is it possible that somehow along the way of life happening, circumstances took place and decisions were made that led me to the point where I killed someone?
Val and I had a really great time last night, vibing with some new people and learning some fun new games. We were completely welcomed in to this gathering of people we had never met and treated with the utmost kindness and respect. People showed interest in who we were, why we had moved to America and the work we are doing. It feels like doing them a tremendous disservice and injustice to collectively label them as ‘geeks’ and let that be the blanket definition of them.
In the Bible, Paul writes this to the Corinthian church – ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’ [2 Corinthians 5.17-19]
In a nutshell, he is saying to them, ‘That which you were before you met Jesus, you are no more. You are a brand new you. No longer will you be defined by the title ‘sinner’ or ‘broken’ or ‘messed up’ or ‘needy’ but now you will be known as a child of God. You are a King’s kid. Find your identity in that.
No, she is not ‘stupid!’ She is a delightful, lovely person, who may have done a stupid thing.
No, he is not ‘evil!’ He is a person loved by God [who calls me to love him too] who has committed an act that can only be described as evil.
Let us look beyond the labels, and even possibly start discarding them?
Let us start to see people. Beautiful, fascinating, people.