Young vs. Old and Other Artificial Dichotomies

In my most recent post, I admitted to being old, conservative, and educated.  Labels!  Why do I associate myself with such terms, and what do they mean?  What age is old?  What does it mean to be a conservative?  How can I claim to be educated?

Each of these categories defies definition.  Young versus old represents an artificial dichotomy.  We could argue all day and all night about the meaning of these terms and who should be pigeon-holed into one or the other of these categories.  Accept by mutual agreement, we would never know for sure who is old and who is young because these labels represent rather arbitrary categories along a continuum.  In truth, we are conceived, born into this world, live our lives, and then pass on to our great reward.  There is no precise milestone that qualifies us to claim old age.  It is just a label for the sake of stereotyping.  The same could be said for conservative versus moderate versus liberal, or educated versus not educated.  We know one when we see one, but we cannot agree on what it is that we know or see.  Fascinating!

Consider almost any label ascribed to humans and you will most likely find an arbitrary set of categories.  Race, level of affluence, physical attributes, ethnicity, and even gender all require placing humans into groups that actually make little sense, but we do it anyway, all the time, even officially.

Asking people to classify themselves into races or ethnicities is a wonderful example of the futility and the absurdity of this endeavor.  It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.  Over the past fifty years, the definitions have changed numerous times as have the words that go along with the definitions.  To further complicate the matter, nationality gets added to the equation as does religion and you have a bunch of nonsense that serves the convenience of stereotyping, often for nefarious purposes.  Every person on the planet descends from 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents or 256 great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents.  Which ones determine your race, ethnicity, or nationality?  Good luck figuring that out!

Of the three ideological labels in common use today, conservative, moderate, or liberal, the largest number of Americans (U.S.A.) consider themselves conservative (38%) compared to moderate (34%) or liberal (23%) according to a Gallup poll reported this past January.  Gallup has been collecting this self-identified information about people for more than 20 years and the results have been interesting.  The general trend is toward more liberals (17% to 23%), fewer moderates (36% to 34%), and fewer conservatives (43% to 38%).  Why we choose to label ourselves this way is a fascinating question.  I wonder how many people even know what the labels mean.  For the details of the poll, check out the Gallup Website at

I choose to label myself as a conservative, and I  have my reasons based upon certain principles that I hold to be critically important.   I actually don’t like the term conservative because it has its own dictionary definition that seems semantically distinct from my meaning.  I intend to explain this in a future post.  I will not attempt to define moderate and liberal, except that they are not conservative.

Thanks for enduring my musings.

About DocStephens

Retired college professor of science and mathematics, academic administrator, and president (emeritus).
This entry was posted in Human Nutrition, Musings, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Young vs. Old and Other Artificial Dichotomies

  1. Paul Rotter says:

    Looking forward to your follow-up post!

  2. Pam says:

    This article made me think if our creator held labels toward us? Does our creator have partial or impartial thoughts toward us? Do you even believe in a creator? Well, I can only express my opinion on this. I believe we do have a creator and he doesn’t care whether we are young or old, or conservative or what our ethnicity is; because he made us who we are?

    In speaking to the Athenians, Paul stated that God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26). We are all descendants of Adam. While we are divided between different nations and languages, we are all the same — human beings created by the hand of God.

    In determining whether we will go to heaven or hell after life on this earth, God “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6). Nationality will not matter. God is impartial toward nations. “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11).

    Earthly wealth makes no impact on God’s judgment. “If you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:17-19). Riches never saved a single man.

    Nor will position in the world make a difference. “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him” (Ephesians 6:5-9). It really doesn’t matter who you are because “God shows personal favoritism to no man” (Galatians 2:6).

    We all start out equal, in that we are all born without sin, but we do not all remain equal. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:23-25). God does not derive any satisfaction in the destruction of the wicked. He demands the same obedience from everyone. “”Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!”” (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

    This same equality of treatment is to be reflected in the church. “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:1-9). Just coming from a spiritual prospective. p.s. at lunch.

    • docstephens says:

      Lunch? Certainly you have given me much food for thought! Thank you for your comments. Labels and stereotypes are earthly concerns. I don’t believe they are relevant in the realm of God.

  3. This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you
    presented it. Too cool!

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