Saturday, May 22, 2010

What's in a name?

I couldn't help but chuckle to myself when someone told me that some union members where planning to change the name of their union supposedly "because the union name has no credibility". Hello? How can a union name "not have any credibility"? It's just a name.

Sometimes I can't help but be surprised how shallow some people can be. It is the officers and members of a union which give it its credibility, and not the name. Even if the name was changed, but if you still had the same people on board, and these people are not credible to begin with, it doesn't matter how many times you change the name, or what name you change it to. The organization will still lack credibility.

As I'm often fond of saying: A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. And by the same token, a pile of shit would still stink no matter what you call it.

What's in a name anyway?

Are the terms we use to refer to someone, to something, really that important? It would seem so at first glance...but people and things remain who and what they are...no matter what you call them.

I have this friend...this close friend whom I actually care a lot for, who used to make a point of not calling the times we went out "dates". It bothered me a bit at first...but then I realized it really didn't matter what she called it. It would still be me, her, and whatever we chose to do when we went out. I would still enjoy her company and hopefully she would enjoy mine. Does it really matter if it's technically a "date" or not? Maybe, maybe not.

She always considered the term "date" as something to be contextualized in the romantic sense...a sense she would rather not consider at this point in time. She may be right...but at the end of the day it is what it is. If none...one...or both of us, let slip in the occasional romantic thought or inuendo, it doesn't really detract from...or enhance...or change the experience. It still is what it is, two people sharing a common activity. It will remain what it's expected to be, no matter what you call it. Whether it leads to something else or not, that's up to the people involved to decide for themselves.

I also find it a bit amusing that she finds it difficult to call me by my first name...my first name only, with no "honorifics". Not that I give a big deal about it...she can call me anything she wants to...and I would still be the person she's referring to. It just turns out we worked in a professional capacity some years ago, and she got used to addressing me with an honorific prefix before my name. Lately, we haven't really crossed paths on a professional level, though as of late, we've been..."intertwined" (her words) on a personal level. And yet, on occasion, she still uses the honorifics, and hesitates without them. To her credit, she's trying to drop the prefix, albeit with some difficulty. It's not a big deal...but it still is quite amusing to observe. :-)

Names in a way are labels...and labels aren't always a good thing. I say this, despite the fact that I have often been guilty of labeling things, people or situations in my head, a form of "social triage" if you will, that I often do to make things convenient and save me some frustration from the real world.

Naming or labeling things...really don't change their nature. The names and labels are for convenience, perhaps for filing these things in our memories, for classifying things for easy reference. Unfortunately, some of us have this penchant for taking names and labels literally...therein lies the rub. Labels often create an impression in our minds even before we have actually grasped or understood the situation, and that often leads to incorrect presumptions, stereotyping...or to worse things like bias, bigotry, or discrimination. And these things can be more trouble than they're worth.

So, to cap things off, what is in a name anyway? Nothing much really. Because it simply is what it is. And things are what they are.

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

- Gertrude Stein





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