Friday, March 23, 2012

Labeling the Senator (John Kerry) from Mass: Really?

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) came to speak this past week at the college where I work. It was a nice thing for him to do and a nice invitation for our small Christian college to extend. Everyone should have been happy for the opportunity to hear from one of our country's most senior representatives.

Never mind. As much as it might have enhanced the educational process for students, allowing young people to hear the personal story and religious journey of a long standing public servant, some folks weren't so sure what to make of Kerry At Said-Evangelical College.  Instead of trying to understand it, they resorted to labels.

One media outlet claimed Kerry questioned if "Jesus was a Liberal?" Another headlined his promotion of "Universal Health Care," when neither the article nor Kerry's talk gave it barely a mention. A local reporter lead his page one story with, "The words politics and religion don't normally conjure an image of a left leaning senator from Massachusetts." And don't even get me started about the Facebook page of "evangelicals" commenting on—what else?—the "far left socialist baby killer" who spoke at the college.


Labels are simply easy categories for lazy thinkers. Follow their thread and they lead to the evil of 'isms'—racism, sexism, classism, etc. I mean, who of us is only a Republican? Or a Democrat? Or a Catholic or Christian or Whatever? Aren't we also immigrants and wives, sisters and business execs, athletes and husbands, honest and in debt and artistic? You get the idea. Humans are complicated and complex beings and to report on them only in terms of their labels is short sided, narrow minded and—did I say this already?—lazy. Digging deeper into the mix of stories, or people, is hard work. Those unwilling to do so ought to keep their mouths shut and their computers off.

In fact, I vote we put these labels to rest forever. Kill 'em—as a southern friend once said—'grave-yard dead.' And now's as good a time as any. It's spring, after all, when even trees in New England cemeteries remind us that new things are possible, including how we talk of senators and religion and public life. And each other.


  1. Michelle Ruckh BaileyMarch 31, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Yes, I was disappointed in the many comments on left on one local on-line media outlet as well.
    Cheers to Tracy whose comment expressed the absurdity of the thread.