Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Labels are for grocery items

I was tweeting with my friend Nic, who labels himself as a conservative Republican in Mississippi, when he asked the question, "Do you think I'm stupid?" My tongue-in-cheek response was: "You are a conservative in the poorest state in the nation...next question..."

By definition a conservative is someone tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions. I personally myself will never want to be tagged with a label that infers that I am predisposed to the notion of maintaining Mississippi as a poor state, because that is the condition we are in.

That is why I am against this labeling system we have adopted in the political process. Human beings that fully use their power of reason, especially in the realm of public policy, are too complex to be neatly placed into that kind of a box. People that tend to think in the big picture range from maintaining the status quo to challenging traditional forms (liberal). I know I have during my time in public office, but outsiders want to try to put me in a box as well.

In Mississippi, the opposition wants to quickly say that I am a liberal because I am a member of The Democratic Party. When I took the position to limit abortion or protect the right to bear arms, fellow Democrats accused me of being a conservative in Democratic clothing. The truth of the matter is that I was born Erik Robert Fleming, the name that my parents agreed upon after much negotiation. I am a child/creation of God and I am an American citizen because I was born in this country. I am identified as a person of African heritage, but there are Sioux, Cherokee and Caucasian bloodlines in my DNA as well. I am a Christian because I profess that He is the Savior of the World. I affiliate politically with the Democrats because I personally believe in government of the people, by the people and for the people.

That is enough labeling for me. I do not like to be boxed into a corner because of who I align with or what I look like. I want to be respected for being me and I would want my ideas to be heard regardless of the audience. Unfortunately, that is not the political system we live in and that is why we are in gridlock while our financial house slowly crumbles away. We are too busy trying to appease a group we want to be labeled with instead of pursuing solutions to move our state and country forward.

Staying locked into a labeling system is a conservative idea. Standing out and making a difference is a liberal idea. What would Jesus, my spiritual inspiration, do? According to the Bible, Jesus' disciples were gathering wheat on the Sabbath day. Some Pharisees, the conservatives of their day, questioned Him. He stated that men had to eat on the Sabbath as well. That is the pragmatic, yet liberal, concept humans should embrace: doing what is right when it is right.

I never want to be stuck in anything I do. If there is a better way to move forward, then I am all for it. The only conservative position any human should be boxed into is when we are in the grave. Until then we should be free to hold on to values we embrace, yet shake things up when needed. We idolize coaches that use that philosophy, but we condemn politicians. That is strange to me when the end game in both arenas in winning.

I am not a tomato can to be placed on a shelf in the canned food section of the super market for convenience. I am a human being, born free and refusing to be bound by the chains of society. I am a free thinker. To label me is de-humanizing and that is not what God intended for me.

Mississippi and America deserves men and women in public service who adhere to the philosophy of thinking about the next generation, not the next election. You can't have that when you marginalize them into labels. I am not convenient, I am complicated. Accept me for who I am.

If we all respected each other like that, then we would truly have a better government that represented us and our best interests, in my humble opinion.