Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

It’s time for us all to stop playing the Name Game

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, October 20, 2012 12:00 am

I know you. I know all about you. I know that you are Catholic and you are Jewish. I can therefore make decisions about the kind of person you are. I know that you, over there, are Mormon, and you in that corner are atheists, which tells me all I need to know about what you think and how you live.

It cues me in to your degree of goodness and moral character, and informs me if you need to live in fear.

As a society of people living in towns and cities across our nation, we regularly do this to one another: We call groups out as sinners, lazy and dirty while we shake our heads and feel sad for those we know are deviant, immoral and lost. It has become a prevalent habit which people of all stripes and shapes rehearse.

Two months ago, my story about how I moved from the culturally acceptable name of Christian to the provocative label of atheist was shared in the News-Sentinel. It has been a unique experience to realize how many people in the area now know me since my name change.

You know, I should be afraid: that I am arrogant, dangerous, lost, without any good in my life and unable to do anything good with it. You know God mourns for me, and Jesus winces at my betrayal.

When you and I play this "Name Game," we throw judgments over people we have never met. We allow our prejudices and assumptions to classify everyone around us and decide if they are acceptable or unacceptable, good or bad, and if they can or cannot be part of our good society, now or ever. We cut each other out of our collective human picture, resulting in one that is fragmented and open to hate and intolerance.

The problem is that you don't know me. The invisible moniker hanging above me does not tell you who I am. I admire Jesus. I teach his story of profound actions of justice and equality and his words of passion to end poverty and value women. I love ritual, meaning making and finding meditation leads us to claiming our goodness.

I am not afraid. I no longer worry about if I am good enough for God or anyone else. I celebrate that I am naturally good and have in me the power to make more good for myself and others. I claim this for you and everyone else.

Simply because you identify as a Christian, agnostic, Buddhist, secularist or other does not mean I know your story, your joys or challenges.

The Name Game does not actually help us know one another. It divides us into categories which then become prisons of low expectations and judgment, giving permission for mistrust and discord. Our ability and willingness to work together is inhibited, and we all lose.

It is time for us to honestly and with intention get to know one another beyond the preconceptions and biases attached to these labels.

How can we in the San Joaquin Valley make deliberate choices to gather beyond our comfort zones for the sole purpose of recognizing our common humanity and goodness? How can our city leaders facilitate such gatherings? Can our churches, temples and mosques join in hosting an event? Will our academies of learning and intellect open their classrooms for a diverse group of people to come together?

In the end, there is no more powerful label we can assign to ourselves and one another than "amazing good human." When we all choose to practice and rehearse the idea that we are naturally good no matter our other names, brands or titles, we will have the power, creativity and capacity to address the problems that face us.

We will change the world.

AmyJo Mattheis, formerly of Lodi, is a former ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a graduate from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer and the author of "Religion Made Me Fat."

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 21 hours ago by Joe Baxter.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

I am still wondering why someone that resides in Sacramento County should be concerned with San Joaquin County politics. Unless it is just …

More...

Posted Yesterday by Joanne Bobin.

article: Letter: Obamacare is not the program pr…

Good work, Mr. Barrow. You have identified many in the past, and now finally with some results!

More...

Posted Yesterday by Joanne Bobin.

article: Letter: Obamacare is not the program pr…

Thank you to the LNS for FINALLY rejecting a letter due to plagiarism. There have been countless instances of letters copied and pasted fr…

More...

Posted 2 days ago by the old dog.

article: Letter: I’m not the one who should move…

Walter: Concerning "Swiftboats" another John did offend me. Kerry gives himself a Purple Heart while cutting himself shaving. …

More...

Posted 2 days ago by Andrew Liebich.

article: Letter: Liberal policies damage our ind…

[sleeping] http://youtu.be/cA8FTjAzRR8

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 90

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists