Category, Label: Human Nature

I read lots of novels with dystopian themes, as you can see by many of my recent posts.  A dystopian novel is a story in which society, as we know it, has been destroyed by war or other cataclysmic event.  As the survivors work to put things back together, they automatically organize themselves into groups of like-minded people.  For humans, it seems, categorizing equals order and control, which is good.  The opposite of order is chaos which, therefore, must be bad, right?  I’m not so sure about that.  The problem with categories is that there are things, people, even books that defy categorization.  They are put in a separate group because they don’t fit in the traditional ones and, more often than not, they are derided for their difference. The Variant or Divergent group (both titles of dystopian novels I’ve read, by the way) are seen as chaotic or they cause chaos in the newly formed society, whether they actually do or not. Their very existence just doesn’t fit the “natural” order of things.  BUT, if you look into any like-minded group, you are going to find variants or those who diverge from that group’s norm in some small way.

I look at the new fiction books, when they come into the library so that I can label them with genre stickers.  It’s my way of  helping my middle school students separate their books from those intended for older readers.  There are not many books that only have one genre sticker on them.  Most have more than one because they just don’t fit into one genre or category.  I propose that the “natural order” of things is to be divergent or variant…to defy a single category. So, why do we constantly try to mold people into the shape of a particular group and not allow any diversity within that group?  You know the old saying “Two heads are better than one”?  The reason that is so often quoted is because it’s true…the two heads think differently or see the problem differently and can come up with a solution because of that difference!  We were created in different sizes, colors, and shapes with various ideas, thoughts and beliefs.  I believe that we were created to be who we are not who others think we should be.  That’s not to say that there aren’t wrong people or ideas…a serial killer or a rapist are wrong, their ideas are sick and twisted but they are also a very, very small (thankfully) group of people.  Our job here on earth is not to judge, that job belongs to Someone else.  Our job is to accept who we are, who other people are, regardless of the possibility that their way of thinking or living is opposite ours.  Why can’t we all just get along?  Okay, perhaps that a bit naive of me but a litte tolerance will go a long way toward averting the wars and other cataclysmic events that will eventually destroy society as we know it and we’ll have to start all over again…

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