Monday, January 16, 2006

Labels and the new Pharisees

Submitted to the Highlands Ranch Herald on January 15:

One of your letter writers attempted to educate us this week on the "liberal slant" of the Highlands Ranch Herald. Sadly, his list of charges is typical of those who see "liberal" bogeymen everywhere they look. In fact, if the Herald were guilty of even one of those charges, he should have been able to provide a specific example. I went back and looked, but no, there weren’t any in his letter. It should have been easy if his claims were true.

Although the unproven charges and lack of specifics in recent weeks have been disturbing, the widespread usage of labels is even more disturbing. Why do so many people have such a devotion to labels? When people use these labels, they switch off their brains and stop listening. They believe that the label-ee isn't really human, and doesn't deserve respect. When they apply these labels to the media, they reject anything they see or read that doesn’t conform to their view of the world. When they use these labels on elected officials or candidates for office, they can easily question their motives, or see evil in everything they say or do. I challenge all of your letter writers and columnists to think about what they say. How would things be different if we actually debated the issues honestly with facts and logic, instead of wasting time by calling each other names or by hurling insults.

This weekend at church, my pastor asked, "Are we descendants of the Pharisees, or of Christ?" It seems that those who insist on labeling people are the new Pharisees – quick to judge and slow to feel compassion or understanding. The next time you feel compelled to use one of those labels, ask yourself, “What label would Jesus use?” and then act accordingly. You might be surprised at the results!

P.S. Yes, I did run for the Colorado legislature in 2004, and yes, I did lose my race. I am not ashamed of the results, and anyone who thinks that they can insult me or hurt my feelings because of my loss is sorely mistaken. I am proud to have been part of American democracy in action, and I hope I stand as an example to everyone who believes in America and in the right of the voters to have a choice when they cast their ballots. This is not the Soviet Union and we do not live in a single-party dictatorship. I respect every American who puts themselves and their reputation on the line by being a candidate for public office, no matter what party they represent, and everyone else should, too.

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