Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wearing Labels

The Quaker meeting I am part of is a large one and it is difficult to get to know who everyone is . Our overseers have been asking us politely for some time to wear name labels to meeting and although I know this is a sensible idea I have been very resistant to it. Perhaps it is time to ask myself why.

Part of the reason lies in my last post. I am uncomfortable when asked to narrowly define myself. On that weekend, when it became obvious that I believe in God [actually I said that I know God], I was asked whether I am a deist or a theist. I have to confess that I did not understand the distinction but it appears that a theist is the more accurate description of my position. But I really don't want to wear that as a label.

On the other hand, as part of my work on spiritual autobiography, I always stress the equal importance of telling our own stories, our own truths as well as listening deeply to the stories and truths of others. To be consistent then perhaps I do have to wear some kind of label, or at least define how I self-identify myself. If I am comfortable with the way I identify myself then even if other people make the wrong assumptions about my label we have the beginning of a dialogue to pursue rather than continuing misunderstanding.

As I start to write my label I realise that it is going to have to be a large one in order to encompass the different ways in which I identify myself. I cannot say that I am different things at different times because all these labels are part of me. So I am Only Child, Mother, Granny, Partner, Friend, Worrier, Researcher, Historian, Writer, Quaker. Perhaps the Quaker label needs extending, although I am not entirely convinced of that. It could include Liberal, Conservative, Unprogrammed, Theist perhaps. Would that generate enough assumptions?

The process is a difficult one but I will attempt it. I may come back and extend my label further but as I start I will take the simple step of wearing a label to meeting on Sunday! 

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