Beyond Labels

May 21, 2010

An author, enigma, husband, lazy, philosopher, stupid, intelligent, uncle, dreamer, kind, father, sincere, creative genius, son, public speaker, radical, friend, loving, designer, liberal, conservative, insightful, extremist, smart ass, brilliant, idiot, businessman, brother, left-wing, right-wing… these are some of the words and labels people have used to describe me over the past year. Some have been shared directly, others behind my back. While some labels are more objective and useful to communicate, others are subjective and open to interpretation. Notice the contradictions in my labels? That’s because they are projections. Labels reflect as much about the labeler as they do the person being labeled. Since I put little merit in subjective labels, I try not to let them influence my thinking. As people we are more than labels… and reality always trumps words.

While labels simplify the world, provide context and help us organize our thoughts, they don’t define reality. In business, people are given titles to describe a role or position. These labels don’t describe who they are, or what they’re capable of doing. The same holds true with children. Have you ever heard a conversation along these lines?

“My daughter is gifted… she’s in all the advanced classes!”

“That’s wonderful, my son is LD… actually, he’s ADD… and in special classes.

“My oldest son is ADHD and he went on to college. My daughter is average… she’s getting by in regular classes… if she worked harder she could be in AP courses.” Read more

Cut, Baby, Cut

May 19, 2010

I first became interested in Easter Island (Rapa Nui) years ago after reading “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich von Däniken. His basic hypothesis is that space travelers visited earth and were welcomed as gods by our ancient ancestors. To Däniken’s way of thinking, this explains many of the unexplainable ancient technologies, past marvels and religious stories. Easter Island was one example sighted in his book, specifically the large monolithic statues called “moai”. According to Däniken, creating and transporting such massive statues would have been outside the intellectual or physical scope of primitive islanders. While most scientists and historians reject Däniken’s ideas, his book captured my imagination and made me aware of Easter Island.

Easter Island is the most isolated habitable piece of land in the world. It lies in the Pacific Ocean more than 2,000 miles west of South America. According to scientists, when its inhabitants first arrived around 400 AD, they must have thought they landed in paradise. The mild climate, fertile soil, rich vegetation and forests would have provided all the resources needed to build homes, canoes (for fishing), fuel for fire, making rope, weapons, thatching, and so on. Over time these islanders developed a complex social structure, centralized government and religious practices… and at some point, they began creating statues.

But by the time Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovered the island in 1722 on Easter day (hence its name), it was far from a paradise. There wasn’t a tree or bush standing higher than ten feet tall. The native animals had vanished and the islanders were raising chickens to survive. According to Roggeveen and others who followed him, these famished natives certainly weren’t capable of producing and moving such massive statues. So what happened on Easter Island? There are many theories. Not only about why and how these statues were made… but what happened to the islanders who made them… and what happened to their paradise? Read more