Those names that others call us
So, what’s in a name, that something that a thing gets called or that we call ourselves?
Ask Coke — it’s the real thing.
Originally a patent medicine, now a national brand of soda with a line of sports apparel, Coke says,” Taste the Feeling,” which makes the point — a name is what you make it.
They made Marlboro Country in the image of something it wasn’t, then invited people to go there. Lots of folks accepted the invitation, but, upon arrival, discovered it was a place to go to die. Hard to keep something like that under wraps for long, but they managed. I just wish they would have given my father a heads up.
Casinos call gambling “gaming” — but it’s losing.
Money can buy names. Big Pharma bought politicians’ votes, allowing them to dispense pain killers in quantities that have killed tens of thousands. Some politicians sell their names.
Occasionally, we choose to leave an omission or a poorly executed commission unnamed, hoping it will be ignored if it doesn’t have a name. Some people go so far as to say that, if something isn’t named, it isn’t. When they say something isn’t that is, or something is that isn’t — you have to be at your naming best to figure out what is really being said.
We have names we call ourselves when we win as a team, other names when we win while we’re alone. Sometimes, when we lose, we create naming illusions to cover those losses.
We’ve been known to weave conspiracies and propagate symbols whose meanings we’ve twisted.
As Gregg “Papa” Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Air Force Academy graduate, and USA Olympic Team basketball coach recently told Maureen Dowd:
“The difference between the flag and what makes a country great — all the people who fought to allow Kaepernick to have the right to kneel for justice.”
If down the road comes a relative of Good Roads Earl’s nemesis — that monarch “Mud” — calling folks names but not naming names, promoting hate in diverse communities, throwing money to people whose names we don’t know and can’t discover even though it’s our money — all the while waving a banner with a single oversized name on it – what are we to do?
We have authoritative guidance: ” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s the Golden Rule, and it requires us to use compassionate names in all our naming situations.
In Judaism, the Rule is stated: ” You shall not take vengeance. Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Christianity, another version is: “The stranger that dwellest with you shall be unto you as one born among you and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:34).” In Islam: “As you would have people do to you, do to them.” In Hinduism: “That which is unfavorable to us — do not do that to others.” In Buddhism: “Just as I am so are they, just as they are so am I.”
The Golden Rule is universal. It tells us not to name or treat others other than how we would name or treat ourselves. If we don’t follow the rule, there are names for that: hypocrisy, greed, intolerance, hate, etc.
If I were one of those elected officials doing unto others what they would never do to themselves, faced with a Golden Rule that I treat myself the same as I would have others treat me, I would have to vote myself out of office.
To preserve my good name.
Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.