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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

EMPTY LABELS with FULL IMPLICATIONS

Part 2


I left you with a thought spout how words pose the danger of turning people into words – or in life, ‘diagnosis’, ‘conditions’ or even ‘impairments’. Of course, I cannot hide the fact that words can be useful. However, inasmuch as this is so, I often find people who have come to believe the labels they are forced to adopt that they become really that label. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that has disastrous effects and has ruined lives. Yet, why do I call myself ‘disabled’ then. Well,
the fact is that I am not describing myself as such when I use that term.


Simply put, when I say that I am ‘disabled’ it’s describing my social position. It’s pointing to the fact that I am not accounted for. It’s not judging me. So, I believe that in a sense it’s liberating. The way I want to be perceived, how I relate to others or how I see myself should never come
into play when I call myself ‘disabled’. On the other hand, terms such as ‘spastic’, ‘retarded’, ‘feeble-minded’, ‘schizoid’, ‘deaf and dumb’ which have all been used (and still are) without looking at the implications they have on the persons they label.


Indeed, it seems to me, that instead of helping people understand each other, these labels have only served to provide justification for action that isolates, excludes or penalises, individuals based on a mere word, that replaces everything that constitutes that person and subjects him/her to an invisible prison. That is, I think, one of the tragedies we face. Not just disabled people, it affects everybody.


There’s no easy solution. But I think it rests with us to go beyond what we have grown to believe, or whatever we have come to associate with people who we label. Describing ourselves
as white, or black; as men, or women; as gay or straight; etc. has its uses. The danger, however, is when we forget that these labels are not reality. Moreover, these labels do not reveal to us the ways in which particular groups are excluded.


However, if you think about it, believing that people can be represented through the names we ascribe to them is no different than believing that there is a green sky or a blue forest. Here, I exclude the paintings of any surrealist who has chosen this theme.



PS: To read more on the relationship between name and identity, you might be interested to read the entry Be Careful what You Call Yourself at Planet of the Blind.

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