Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Power To Name

Looking to the early part of the book of Genesis we find an interesting task given to humans. Apparently God created animals and creatures, but they had no names. There was not fox or goat or cow, but ther were four-legged creatures that had distinct differences. God gave humans the task of naming.

Oh, but God also gave humans the task of caring for the animals. Naming the animals was helpful to the task of caring.

The power to name is a great power. When a name sticks, it is the way by which others identify someone or something. When I was in college I was given the name, Fajita. That was 20 years ago. The blog you are reading is part of the legacy of the someone giving me a name.

The power to name is like other powers given to humans: The power of fire, the power of creativity, the power of influence. Each of these powers has positive and negative potentials.

I am of the opinion that the power to name is one of hte most abused powers by humans. People name other people constantly. These names give rank order to people, crowning some as kings and mocking others as meaningless.

You see it on the playground. Kids make decisions about other kids and then assign names to them.

You see it in the office. You don't have to be in the office environment long to know who has what name and what those names mean.

It is in every aspect of life. Names are used to ingroup and outgroup people. Christian denominations have names so you can immediately categorize them and know their beliefs.

The dark side of names is that they create a false knowledge of something and serve as a way to bypass the important work of gaining actual knowledge of something. Lots of people who have been near each other in work settings have never gotten to know each other because there was an assumed knowledge based on the accepted name of the person, and not the person himself.

Have you ever been the victim of receiving a name that lead lots of people to believe something about you that was not true?

1 comment:

Beaner said...

Well, my nickname is 'Beaner' and I'm not a Mexican-American. Someone gave me that name in grade school because I was skinny, like a bean & my name is Jeaner-Beaner was born, then shortened to Beaner. Imagine my horror a decade later when I was watching a Cheech & Chong movie & found out what it really meant!!! And I'm having a hard time dropping it, even though I know it may be offensive to others.