Some thoughts on labeling, dismissing, and dissolution of dialogue in the West
Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher despised what he saw as abuses through the lens of the enlightenment. Those that rise to social power are tempted to use collective human conscience (we and they) to obliterate the imago Dei, the God stamped, unique image on the individual. This is accomplished through the labeling of the ‘other.’ He’s famously be attributed with the quote, “if you label me, you dismiss me” – but in context, it’s even more fascinating.
“Put me in a system and you negate me – I am not a mathematical symbol – I am.”
When other philosophers and elites tried to silence him, they, like unhealthy power seems to do, attempted to label him as fringe, as conflicted, and an enemy of progressive ideology.. stupid Soren, he’s holding unacceptable views. To label is to dismiss in an effort to consolidate social power for the ‘we’ crowd. We see this today, we are losing the art of dialogue, and in doing so, our own unique voice.
Soren went on,
“I am no part of a whole, I am not integrated, not included. To put me in this whole you imagine is to negate me. Who am I? I am an intensity of feeling in relation with beings, and particularly with the Divine Being, who excites my desire and knowledge.”Kierkegaard,
He was a brilliant philosopher who saw the roots of the division in the denial of human dignity, given to each person by the Divine. Secular humanism, in it’s infectious pursuit of human progress denies the existence of a higher Being than the human self. To embrace the Divine is to become an enemy of progress. How could humanity ever reach its zenith of possibility, it’s utopian possibility with the shackled weight of accountability for the implicit and undeniable evils in the human heart? Easy! God is dead, he’s behind us, now onward and upwards!
We are living in a deconstructing western context, especially in the US/Canada. The enlightenment’s tentacles are far and wide, they’ve already ravaged Europe, but it took an extra hundred years to reach the shores of North America, into the universities and democracies. It’s influence toward the reality of a ‘secular’ world is the real mythology.
There is one reality, which we all experience, and not one of us has the capacity or divine right to impose our view of it upon another fellow human. Christendom tried to do this, by force, and this failed miserably in many respects. Yet, that failure doesn’t require the opposite, a completely humanistic, secular ideology now coercively shoved down the throats of everyone, and dismissing and punishing those who will not comply.. This is simply retribution, tit-for-tat ugly power structure dominating the other, dividing the people for the ease of governing.
Power, flourishing power, is a gift. It is exemplified through influence. The imago Dei heart uses power for the good of empowering others, not consolidation of more power. It reasons toward collective flourishing, it invites, welcomes and embodies virtues that move the heart and mind to collective culture making. Faux power is reduced to demeaning speech, labeling those as to do away with their voice and their personhood. This is the style of power we witness too often among our elected leaders. It’s the style of power that Kierkergaard took issue with, the labeling and dismissing abuse of power, which in fact is a disregard of divinity through the disregarding of intrinsic divine attributes within every individual – to label is to say, “You are plural, and I will deal with you as such.”
Social media has been thrust upon a world unprepared. Immediate pulpits for opinion become instruments of labeling, instruments of division. We’re so afraid of our own uncertainty, we join the ‘in’ tribe to dismiss the ‘out’ – the sense of belonging, has overrun our sense of learning, of learning to be OK with our own sense of uncertainty and deeper insecurities.
What could our social realities look like, our neighborhoods, places of work and churches looks like if we each considered Kierkegaard and consciously stopped labeling. What if, we took it a step further, and simply started labeling everyone as ‘in’, worthy of our listening ear, considering not just subject of discussion, but the person’s intrinsic value?
This, I believe, is the essence of love, embodied in histories most powerful, influential human history has witnessed, Jesus of Nazareth. His resurrection reveals his ontological power over reality itself, and his very life all the influence I need for this one.