A trip to the zoo with 1 & 3 year old grand-daughters re-enlightened me to the benefits and dangers of generalizing or labeling. It’s phenomenal that a 20 month old can recognize that a 600 lb African lion is a kitty. It’d be horrifying if she was able to try to pet him. Labeling, generalizing, help us to understand things like; cats are cats, and a Yugo and a Lamborghini are both cars. The problem, is that generalizations and labeling also can cause us to treat people as part of a group instead of as individuals for whom Jesus died.
As I was poking through my files looking for a good illustration, I found this, instead? 🙂
When Oxford and Cambridge Universities decided to admit commoners as students in the 1600s, the unprecedented flood of new innovative thought had a tremendous impact on British society. Each student was listed on the record by name and title. The commoners’ names were listed with the Latin inscription, Sine Nobilitate, meaning Without Nobility. The abbreviation was S. Nob., which within the rigid class systems of the time had both positive and negative connotations. The word “snob” is still in use today.
Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.