A couple of days ago I was made aware that London was having an election for their mayor. I had heard of Boris Johnson mainly because I thought the only people with the name Boris were German tennis players. I was told that Johnson was wanting to become prime minister so that's why he was stepping down. Good luck to him, I say.
Anyway, I woke up this morning to this article. Then I was reading this article at lunchtime. Now I ask you why am I writing about this today? Well, who cares what his religion is? I mean he's a Muslim, good on him. I'm sure that he prays five times a day, doesn't drink alcohol and doesn't eat pork products. But why do both headlines have the word Muslim in it? I mean would both of these websites have this headline: London elects it's first The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Mayor. (I know I should have written Mormon there but having the official name there made it easier to make my point) Or would they have this headline? London elect it's first bi-sexual Mayor. Actually they would definitely have the second one but the first one they wouldn't because that name of the church is not as well known as Islamic faith.
Why do we continue to give labels to people even in 2016?
I was called gaijin for the first time in a long time this morning. For those of you who don't know, the word gaijin is a Japanese word meaning foreigner. The characters are this: 外人. The first character means outside and the second character means person. So outside person. Since the guy who said this to me was outside when he said it, doesn't that by definition make him a gaijin too? Unfortunately this argument is too much for most people so I didn't bother. My point is why was I labeled as gaijin when I was just a "young" man walking to the gym at 7.30 on a Saturday morning?
So, let me go back to my question, why do we have to label people in 2016?
My answer is, I don't know. I'm sure I do it all the time without even knowing that I do. I like to listen to the comedians out there making fun of the various stereotypes that we have in our world. By the way, if you can make fun of yourself then you have my utmost respect. To be able to make fun of yourself means that you don't take yourself too seriously and I believe that makes a peaceful society.
Maybe an answer is that it makes us feel comfortable about ourselves. Maybe we genuinely think that we are better than that particular group and we have to make sure we do that by giving them a label.
Maybe we are so keen to compartmentalise out lives that it is necessary to put everyone that we come across into groups so it is easy to live.
Good luck to Mr. Sadiq Khan in his new "job." I'm sure he will do well. I'm sure that whenever he does something controversial that the label makers will come out and make a point to point out his religious affiliations and ethnicity. That's what we do.
I wonder what the world would be like if we didn't have these labels. Hmmm, that's an interesting one. Another blog post? It might be challenging one. Stay tuned.