Jan 24, 2007

Is Your Label Sticky?

by Faith St. Clair

I'm easily affected by the things I see and read and hear and oft times I think (perhaps a bit too much) about what they mean to me in my life.

So here I go...thinking again....

There’s a hit Broadway show that’s running right now called, “Wicked”. It’s not as bad as what you might think – it’s a prequel to the "Wizard of Oz" and is the story of how the Wicked Witch becomes wicked. In any case, there’s a song in the play where the Wizard is explaining that before he got to Oz, he was a dime-a-dozen hick. When he got to Oz, however, they thought he was wonderful. When asked if he lied about who/what he really was, he said, "no." He simply became the label they wanted him to be – "wonderful". Here are some of the words of the song... – “Where I come from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true – we call it…history. A man’s called a traitor or liberator; a rich man’s a thief or philanthropist. Is one a crusader or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities – so we act as though they don’t exist! The called me wonderful – so I am wonderful…”

It’s all in the label that is able to persist

On a very different, but parallel note, there’s a book that our family read last summer that’s called, "The Tipping Point." The book is shelved in the business section and discusses the phenomenon of how epidemics occur. The tipping point is the point where the scale tips and everything changes – causing an epidemic. It says that the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of things, is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.

The author, Malcolm Galdwell, attributes these epidemics to three causes - the law of the few, the stickiness factor and the power of context. It’s the stickiness factor I want to touch on. Stickiness means that a message makes an impact. You can’t get it out of your head. It sticks in your memory.

It sticks

Here is the where I cross the bridge...

What of gospel principles that we are taught? What of the ten commandments? What of keeping the Sabbath day holy, what of honoring our parents, what of not coveting thy neighbor? What of paying our tithing, what of going to all of our church meetings? What of reading our scriptures? What of praying? What of sustaining the prophet, of gambling, of tattooing or piercings? What of temple attendance? What of being honest, true, chaste?

On an individual basis, I had to ask myself, what labels persist with these principles? What about you? Would you call them obligations? Would you call them duty? Would you call them choices? Would you call them restrictions? Would you call them good advice? Would you call them old fashioned? Would you call the commandments (which include modern day revelation from a living prophet), burdens? Guilt trips? Something you don’t need to worry about?

I'm thinking perhaps we should label them as desires.

Are there some of those principles that have stuck with you? And if there have – why? And if a good portion of them haven't - why?

Going back over the bridge - to the song - "There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities – so we act as though they don’t exist!" If we have a testimony of Christ – then the above (no pun intended) commandments exist. They are not ambiguous. They are called commandments - so they are commandments. Are we at ease with them?

Here I linger on the bridge and think....

The only way we’ll label them as a desire and have them stick as our foundation in all that we do, say, think, plan, act, write, and spend time on, is if we look to Christ for the message. Then...

The Commandments should stick as our foundation and be labeled our desire.


  1. Wow, that was powerfully written. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. This reminds me of being a missionary and wearing the name tag with the Church's name on it. We literally took upon ourselves His name. It was humbling. Good thoughts, Faith.
    Jennifer Griffith

  3. I've been listening to the sound track of Wicked in my car, reveling in the marvelous use of language in the lyrics. I'll never listen to the "Wonderful" song in the same way again.

    Thanks for something to ponder on today.

  4. Faith,
    Your keen insight and your talent for putting it inot such powerful language leaves me breathless. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am truly inspired.


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