What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
So, what IS in a name?
Some people don’t like their own given name, and sometimes we don’t like someone else’s name. Sometimes we are in wonderment at how someone might have arrived at a particular name, or notice that a name has a funny ring to it, or sounds like it might be from another language than our own, etc. I remember disliking my name when I was young. I much preferred nicknames to my own given name when I was a teenager. That changed as I grew into an adult, but not necessarily for the reasons this post is about… until now.
Our family has another grandbaby on the way — our third. So it’s an exciting time! I was teasing the kids about naming the baby after me — even if it was a boy — or combining mine and mother’s names — DeboRosa. Yeah, I know how it sounds. My former husband says it sounds too much like “ambrosia,” which I still feel qualifies it for the possibility list. (I’m seriously just kidding.)
When I was out for my walk the other day, I was chuckling to myself about that conversation. Then I started thinking about our children’s names. All three boys are named after beloved family members who are not only loved, but strong in character. The lone girl’s name was chosen because it sounded pretty (and it is — almost as pretty as her). Our first granddaughter is named the same way, and our first grandson is named after his father and has a middle name with a very special meaning in Spanish. Anyway, that’s the context for this post.
As I and my thoughts meandered around the neighborhood, it occurred to me just how much I love our kids’ names, and how much they mean to me. I started thinking about the things I mentioned above about my own name, about times when I couldn’t imagine why someone would name a child “that,” or when I heard someone making fun of a name because it sounded “foreign.” I know people who have changed their names because they didn’t like them, and others because the name they were given at birth did not match their gender identity. I know some who have changed their names because they wanted a more American-sounding name. (That makes me sad for a few reasons.) I also recalled some people whose names make me personally feel a particular way — upset, angry, sad, fearful, anxious. And there are still others when I hear them, I feel joy, love, warmth, happiness. But I couldn’t recall ever hearing a parent say that they regretted giving a particular name to their child/ren.
I worked in various positions in healthcare, primarily women’s health for many years. Names were important, and spellings of those names were extremely important. I used to keep a list in my drawer of the peculiar or unusual ones. Some seemed thoughtful, but others still have me scratching my head to this day. Nonetheless, someone cared about those names enough and whatever was behind them to dole them out to a most precious gift.
How do people respond to your name? How do they feel when they hear it? How do you feel about your own name? How will you hear names after this?
When your parent/s gave you your name, it sounded like love in their soul, like music to their ears, a song etched in their heart, or a sweet memory worthy of sharing. It meant something to the person that thoughtfully gave you your name, and they heard something in it, knew someting about it no one else could hear, see, or feel quite the same.
I was remembering a suggestion someone made, tongue-in-cheek, about how politicians should wear suits or jackets like professional auto racers wear. You know the ones that have patches and graphics all over them showing who their sponsors are? I wish we would do that. It will never happen though. They don’t really want us to easily identify, or in some cases ever identify who donates to their campaigns because then we would really see what is behind their masks and who they really serve. But then that had me thinking a little further — about all of us. What if there were specific characteristics that showed the world who we are, what we are like as soon as anyone laid eyes on us — characteristics that couldn’t be changed? We already have issues with making assumptions based on skin, national origin, sex, etc. But what if naturally blue hair meant you hit your wife? What if checkered grey and green skin meant you were a cheater? What if lavender lips meant you were chronically mean? What if hair that grew straight up front, but tight and curly in the back showed that someone was a narcissist? Or what if whatever clothes we put on for the day and our bodies just instantly became tagged with these clues? What would that be like? Would that cause us to be kinder, to be quicker to care about how our actions affected others? The possibilities are endless… but I’ll bet a lot of us are glad this is just a daydream from a walk.
So I wrote the post (pictured above) after news of a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. This is on the heels of a mass shooting in Georgia. I wrote it right before I went to bed, and I was feeling just done with the madness. Well, if you are a thinker or a writer, as usually happens, once I laid down in the quiet, the thoughts flooded in.
A little more on this….
Everything I said in that post is 100 percent how I feel. They’re my thoughts. My wish is that I knew what to do about it, knew how to effect actual, lasting change, but my belief is that it’s not a gun problem, but a heart and soul condition. (Shameless plug: I think I have a blog post about that somewhere.) I used to think that we just need to ban every single kind of firearm, but my thoughts on that have slowly, continually evolved. I still wish we lived in a world where they didn’t exist, never existed at all, but I can wish that until the cows come home and it won’t change a single thing. So….
Learn better; do better.Thoughts evolve, and that’s okay.
My thoughts on gun control are evolving as over the years I have come to understand and see how these types of laws can affect communities that aren’t White, and communities that sit in the lower income brackets. This is true of so many of our laws and beliefs. I believe in our 2nd Amendment as I understand it (not in the fear-based, bastardized version so many self-appointed “patriots” vomit out), but I don’t believe just anyone deserves to own a firearm either. So what are the correct parameters? I doubt we’ll ever find agreement on this either.
The Black Panthers showed up and we clutched our pearls.
Remember that time in 1967 when the Black Panthers showed up on the steps of the California State Capitol and then-Governor Reagan (R) and his NRA cronies decided we needed gun control laws right away? Well, I don’t remember because I was barely 3 years old, but it’s not hard information to find. But yes, the NRA wanted gun control laws after that incident! (If you never stopped to wonder “why,” here’s your chance.) What I do vividly remember many times is White men and women parading, storming, and protesting at various state capitol buildings, other federal buildings and lands armed to the freaking gills. What I also remember about those incidents is the government, the twisted NRA, and many so-called patriots saying NOTHING and doing NOTHING about it. Essentially, what I’ve seen is blatant inequality, and the silence I hear is actually an action, a stand.
So there I was with a pretty strong thought about guns and owners, heels dug in, rock solid sentiments. The problem is it centers my own personal fears and knee-jerk reactions rather than the whole picture. It leaves out the welfare of a whole lot of people. Is this the crossroads or a complete shift? I guess I’m not totally sure yet, but I know it is different, and I know that if my thoughts or actions contribute to hurting another group through inequality or inequity, then that’s a clue that some shift needs to happen. It’s a clue tapping at me letting me know that something is unbalanced, unfair, and requires more thought. I have always chosen to be a scout rather than a follower — someone who continually seeks out a higher consciousness and willing to change direction when or where I see I can do better. I’m not afraid to find out I’m wrong. I’m not afraid to change. I’m not afraid to realize my thoughts may have been imitated without thought and it’s okay to change direction. All of that might piss off some folks, but that isn’t always what’s most important. So I adjust, transform, or switch directions.
So here I am with little direction, nagging thoughts, armed with a scout mentality.
I’m going to stay in this inquiry until I have a solid direction. It’s important to me that the footprint I leave on others isn’t one on their backs. It’s important to me that my activism supports our Black and Brown communities in equality. It’s important to me to self-examine regularly and make sure I’m in alignment with what I say I want in the world, and that I’m not aligned out of fear. I’m going to have a conversation with a friend of mine whose ideas have also changed around gun ownership, whose ideas were much like mine and have also evolved quite a bit over the past year or so. I was invited to go to a shooting range event by that friend, and my husband and I are going to attend. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never shot a gun in my life, and they’ve always scared me. I have no clue what I might learn, who I might get to talk to, but I’m open to it all because personal evolution is calling. I’ll blog about my experiences and thoughts.
I hear a lot lately about cancel culture. I’m sure it has its negative impacts, as I can see how we might want to jump the gun or be specifically harsh to someone if our feelings have been hurt in some way. I can also see how it is necessary if someone is toxic or dangerous to our very being. More specifically, today I got to thinking about people that claim to love us or have our highest interests at heart — someone we live with, a spouse, a neighbor, a relative, or a friend.
Sometimes people just aren’t for you, even if they have love for you. Sometimes people just are not your tribe, or someone truly isn’t your person. Everyone has some kind of genius inside of them, and you will know your tribe by the fact that they not only recognize it, but they actually celebrate it, and they might even recognize it in you before you realize it. That’s your tribe; that’s your person!
The trash can’t be ignored forever. Sometimes there are gems hiding in there. Sift through it. You have the option of hanging on to whatever you want, and the opportunity to throw out the stinky and poisonous stuff.