Its a sunny day and your windows are down, cool breeze blowing as you cruise down the highway, enjoying the start to another summer adventure.
But as you stop at a light, alongside pulls up a young tanned man in a curvy red muscle car, and he's blasting the LOUDEST, RAUNCHIEST song you have ever heard. You're not sure what's worse: the song itself, or the fact that he's completely oblivious to the people around him.
“Prick,” you mumble to yourself as you roll up your window and glare as long as you'll dare. "He's on steroids, no doubt. I bet he can barely afford that car. In fact, it's probably stolen. Think he hits his girlfriend? Yeah, he looks like the type. Man I wish I had some of my buddies with me..."
Wait ... what? How did you get there? You went from raunchy music to wanting to beat up an abusive boyfriend car thief in the span of 15 seconds. Why? Because you allowed yourself to define him by a label. That's what labels do, after all.
How many assumptions did we make about the guy in this story? 4? Even you, reader, probably have a picture in your head. Hair, clothes, face ... without any of that part of the picture even being painted. When we mutter "prick" at someone under our breath, we construct a whole life story for someone. We dismiss someone as a slur ... a vulgar stereotype.
Labels lie, even the smallest ones we whisper quietly to ourselves. Not only do they hurt others, they rot our soul. First we whisper, then we shout, and finally we stop using our voice and move on to something worse.
Instead, let's choose grace. It isn't always fair, and it isn't always easy, but it is right. Of course the world doesn't revolve around a rude guy and his raunchy music, but it neither does it revolve around us.