Here's the problem with labels:
I posted two updates on Facebook. They seemed simple. One: My baby-blue beaver fur coat keeps me warm. It was on sale at Second Run and I love it. The other? That I'm furious with the pathetic state of our Board of Game and the dastardly policies of snaring bears, gassing wolf pups and shooting both bears and wolves from airplanes.
De-friended with explanations -- so seventh grade.
First de-friend: "I thought you were a liberal! You wear FUR? Shame on you. Blah. Blah. Blah."
Yes. I wear a fur coat. I bought it at a consignment shop on sale. It's cold here, and my coat keeps me warm, like putting a puppy on my chest.
Second de-friend: "You don't like snaring? I thought you were a real Alaskan. Blah. Blah. Blah."
No. I think snaring is close to lynching. I grew up checking a trap line with Pop. I still hate the smell of mink being skinned out, which is why I wouldn't own a mink coat.
Shots from both directions. Why? Because I crossed the boundary between labels.
You know what? I, like you, have been mislabeled by people more often than not. Labeling is the corner cutting of human interaction. White or black, man or woman, believer or atheist, liberal or conservative, straight or gay. There is always more to each of us than our little bundle of labels.
At this week's taping of "Moore Up North," we were graced with the presence of Mrs. Ermalee Hickel.
She said, "You sound like Wally when you talk."
"But Wally wasn't always right."
"Yes. But when he said it, he believed it."
Oh, yes. I'm a fully labeled "liberal," and I never felt more complimented than to be compared to a former Republican governor and Nixon appointee who loved this state.
We are more than redistricting lines, political parties, religion or race. I refuse to check "white" on any form I fill out asking for my race. I write in "human."
In 2009, the tea party emerged. Town hall meetings turned into screaming matches. A depressed economy. High unemployment. Rampant fraud on Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. People were angry and rightly so.
In 2011, Arab Spring demonstrations sparked the Occupy Movement here. People took to the streets, angry about a depressed economy, high unemployment and rampant fraud on Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. They were angry too and rightly so.
The reality is, there isn't much difference between the tea party and the OccuParty -- two seemingly polarized groups with legitimate axes to grind. The only difference, it seems to me, is who they blame. Can you imagine the power of the lobby if these two groups came together?
In Alaska, the state House works exclusively on party labels. That's why last year it hastily decided to give away $2 billion a year to the oil producers, some of the wealthiest corporations in the history of civilization. That's the extremism we get when one party can steamroll the other.
The Senate, on the other hand, chose to set aside party labels to work for the betterment of all Alaskans. They're likely to take a much more measured approach to oil taxes.
Before you say, "You label too!" you're right. Guilty. Conversations and ideas, listening to people who disagree with you -- it takes time and effort. It's easier to label. But maybe we should try a moratorium where Alaska's future is concerned. Wouldn't it be great if Alaskans a hundred years from now could look back and not see our labels but that we had their future as our common cause.
Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM/95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. on KYUR Channel 13.