Ann Bednarski: Labels stunt our natural growth

“A functional defect that causes destruction or collapse” is one of the meanings of the word vice. It is pervasive in our society today; it’s a cancer. Several forces feed and perpetuate its growth and reproduction: Power, fear, bullying, intimidation and contentious labels. Think about each of those words and assess your own activities and how they are altered or limited because of them. So many people I have met in the past year have expressed strong positions on the issues of the times. When I suggest they do something about their concerns, the vast majority say the fear of repercussions for stating their opinions keeps them from sharing them publicly.

Many people sincerely believe no one is listening; they do not feel they count. That is a destructive way of thinking — not for the person, but for our entire society. We have managed in the past 50 years to do things that encourage apathetic attitudes. Most everyone today thinks their privacy is seriously compromised; they’ve become guarded in their own homes and private lives. We sit by passively and worry and complain. That’s not good enough.

Labeling is one of the most effective tools to promote withdrawal from society. People are now categorized according to some guidelines that power players have created. We start labeling children in school, and they are repeatedly told they are the “at-risk” population that needs the most interventions, thus growing numbers of children are placed in special education classes. I know there are children who have special needs; I taught many. I also know there’s more money per student for this population. Sadly, it is a label that is difficult to lose.

A student I was tutoring who was struggling with her reading said to me once unsolicited, “Miss Ann, the reason I cannot read is because I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” I was shocked she could even say those words, so I asked her to say them again. She did. Then I asked how she was able to say those words and yet had difficulty pronouncing one-syllable words. Confident, she said, “Oh, that’s easy. They sat me down at school and had me repeat them and repeat them until I knew all the words perfectly.” She added, “That’s what I am supposed to tell my teachers. I have an excuse to not learn anything.” That is serious conditioning and a very poor use of repetition, one of the best tools for teachers.

We have a series of contentious labels that stilt open, honest discussions. Some of the most common are racist, pervert, cult member and terrorist. Ask yourselves if you would be interested in engaging in conversation with someone who has judged you before you say a word.

When our elected officials do not lead but rather deceive, skew, abuse, place themselves above the law, lack transparency and accountability, and spend tax dollars foolishly on frivolous projects, the government is no longer representative. It collapses. Our education system has stopped being academic and continues to do everything to procure more tax dollars; it doesn’t teach children to think for themselves and develop life skills. Maybe that’s because unions control what teachers do so they themselves cannot be innovative.

Promoting drug use to alter brain function, casual child sexual behavior with abortion as a control mechanism, and taxing everything does not produce a viable society. In fact, these things destroy the basic unit, the family. Everyone has to be involved. Living in fear, being oppressed and being taxed too much contradict the precepts on which our country was founded. Please take the chance that may change your life, cement your values, and enhance your personal growth: get involved. Apathy may very well be the eighth deadly sin; lust and greed seem to be socially or maybe just politically acceptable today. How sad is that?


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