Human, the forgotten label
Humanity is made up of a conglomerate of individuals. We associate (ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation etc.) with certain aspects of ourselves.We create our identities with these labels. We do this in order to relate to other humans and feel a part of some thing bigger than ourselves. The biggest notion I find within an individual is to belong — to anything. We are not lone creatures, and our survival depends on one another.
The Break Down in Humans
When we begin to break down a human, we begin by classifying certain aspects of that individual and ask ourselves these questions:
Is this human, male or female?
What ethnicity are they?
What race do they belong to?
What group or religion do they adhere to?
We desire to get to the root of that particular person’s being. Once we have analyzed enough questions, we form an analytical understanding of who that person is. We do this in order to understand our place in the world and that of our neighbors’. We compare data and analyze the differences in our findings. Are they a threat to us? Fear of the unknown. In order to achieve a conclusion, first, we must have a comprehensive understanding of who we are.
Growing up, I never felt like I fit in. I am Mexican American but prefer the connotation; Hispanic. Mostly, because I do not feel like I am a Mexican nor do I feel like I am fully an American. Neither word embodies who I am. I realized I was very different from my family; they embraced our Mexican culture wholeheartedly. They identified with it, and it matched who they were as people. I didn’t feel quite as connected, and it made me feel lost.
Hispanic, is a Spanish-speaking person living in the US, especially one of Latin American descent.
I am more comfortable with this description. Still, I never understood what made me a Mexican vs. an American; aside from the fact that I was born in America and not Mexico. My documents all read that I was American, but at school I was known as the Mexican kid. At home, we were Mexicans(speaking only in Spanish and adhering to Mexican customs) — being known as a “Americana” was to be known as white. I knew I wasn’t white.
It created a binary identity within me that left me feeling like an outcast. I didn’t belong to either group, not fully. I like aspects of our Mexican culture but I do not agree with all of it. I mainly dislike the misogyny that exists within our Mexican culture.
What did it mean to be American ? Being born in America is what made you an American — that was about all I knew, at that time. I like aspects of being American, especially, the freedom that is allotted to us and our patriotism. Unfortunately, identify as anything else but American and you are labeled as unpatriotic. It felt like I had to give up my Mexican heritage in order to be fully considered American. I wasn’t willing to give up any part of who I was, regardless of what side it was for. Then what was I? I would figure it out, eventually.
Classifying Ourselves into Groups
You grab a group of people and you analyze all of their characteristics and conclude that the majority have x characteristics in common. Therefore, that is what defines this group. Let’s label them Y. You draw notions (judgement) based on group Y’s characteristics. Then, it depends on what characteristic you are focusing on, it could be good or bad. When you look at an individual from group Y, that known characteristic is all you see. Then you begin taking stock of who you are and how you fit into the world. You compare your findings of yourself to theirs.That group has different characteristics than yours.
“Well, their beliefs are different than mine; I don’t view the world that way.”
Your perspective of the world is put into question and that causes turmoil. Fear arises and you begin creating boundaries to protect your existence — you cling to your labels for salvation and hope — hope, that as a group, they can’t take you down. What is wrong with that notion? You are separating yourself from humanity by being fearful of the unknown. Division arises and then it becomes you vs. them.
The one thing that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to look ahead at the future and ponder the past. We fear the future because it is unknown. We fear death — the irreversible. We fear a future in which our existence will change and will forever be irreversible.(Stephen West)
We are reactionary creatures that handle fear in a multitude of ways.
- Freezing in place and feeling terror if we can’t do anything to avoid the immediate danger.
- Running or escaping from the immediate danger,
- Sharply focusing our attention and mobilizing us to act to reduce or eliminate the danger when we can take effective action to cope with the threat, or
- Panic, including shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, and the inability to focus on anything but worrying about the feared future event,
- Fighting to destroy the object of our fear.
( EmotionalCompetency.com © 2005–2009 by Leland R. Beaumont)
Somewhere down the road we began dissociating from the fact that we are all Humans. We became subject to our labels and refuse to look beyond them. We created the boundaries we live in. We are giving into fear and living comfortably behind the labels we have created. If there is one notion we can be united on, it is that at the end of the day, we are all humans. United we are humanity.
The philosopher Plotinus says -
“It is in virtue of unity that beings are beings…deprived of unity, a thing ceases to be what it is called…unity gone, neither remains thus even continuous magnitudes could not exist without an inherent unity; break them apart and their very being is altered in the measure of the breach of unity.” (The Enneads of Plotinus)
Finding the Label that Best Suits Me
I am also bisexual — I wasn’t always. I grew up heterosexual, until, I met an individual (woman) who awoke feelings in me I never knew I had. It was a very confusing point in my life. I didn’t identify as gay, and I was not attracted to women but I loved a woman.
It took me years to come to terms with the idea of labeling myself as bisexual but it was easier than the explanation I was using.
“I am a straight woman who is dating a woman because I like her for who she is, not for her gender.”
It doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily. It was frustrating and more than anything, it was frustrating having to explain myself and not be understood. I went out of my way to explain myself because I didn’t want people to label me as gay, which, was something I did not associate with.
After I broke it off with this woman I thought to myself, “Oh, great, I can go back to being me (straight),” it did not go over so well. I found myself actually being attracted to women now — it stemmed from knowing what it felt like being with a woman and having the experience. So, eventually, I grew comfortable with using bisexual as a label for myself — it described exactly how I was feeling. People always ask me which gender I prefer — my answer is always the same; I am bisexual because I enjoy both genders equally. If I could decide, I would either be straight or gay.
Then came the enlightenment of the (LGBTQA+) labels. I felt more lost than ever. Did I really have to specify what type of bisexual or whateversexual I was? How would I keep up with all these labels and better yet, not step over some arbitrary line that someone had created. I walked on eggshells worried I would offend someone because of a misuse of a label. Was I identifying with the correct one? It was exhausting, but I wanted to respect every individuals’ belief. All I knew was that I was a human who loved other humans. What label is there for that? Apparently, the closest related label is pan sexual. I wasn’t too comfortable with it — mostly because it is not a popular term most people use and it would garner more questions than I care to answer. I stuck with bisexual.
This brings me to the point of labeling ourselves. Each label contains a connotation that traps you within that group. It creates an arbitrary boundary that you may not even be aware of. We are all made up of so many labels: student, mother, daughter, friend etc.
I found that I did not fully belong to any one label. Then who I am? I went back to the basics. The only label that could encompass everything that I am, my being, and reason for existing is that I am a human being. I am made up of all humans who came before me and before that. Upon this realization I found my love for humanity and what it means to exist in this world — accepting all that resides within humanity. We can break down our existence to an infinite amount of labels. Call yourself what you must, but don’t forget the one label that defines us all.
Human, is the label that far precedes anything we can label ourselves.
Look within yourselves and find the key to your humanity and what it means to exist. Apply it to your fellow human and realize you are not the only individual living on this planet. Together, as human beings, we can be the change that removes boundaries from the road to equality. There is only one label in this world that encompasses entirely who and what we are and that is: Human.