Friday, April 3, 2009

A Name as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I've heard the statement, "What's in a name?" a thousand times before. When I read DB's post on normative determinism, I thought I had left a good response to his write up. But on a return visit to his site, DB had replied to my comment and stated that a name is not a "self-fulfilling prophecy". He may be right in the sense that Shepherd Kellen Seinfeld (parents; Jerry & Jessica Seinfeld) is not expected to become a sheep Herd in future. Is it then a co-incidence that Jacob (meaning, a usurper or surplanter) did successfully con his brother out of his birthright (Genesis 25:30-32) and later, his blessings as the first born (Genesis 27)?

So, what is a name?

A name achieves the purpose of describing a human or thing and subsequently identifying it. Otherwise, we would probably be referring to the next person as simply Him 1 or Her 2 (and even that would be a name). Thinking further, if a name is for the purpose of description and identification, then why do parents go to a great length to name a child a special name (fanciful or religious). Why not just call a child "Tree"or anything else (whether dumb or smart) as long as we can identify him by that word? I think it is because we, humans in general and probably Nigerians in particular, believe that there is more to a name than just a means of identification. In which case, would you agree with Shakespeare when he states in Romeo and Juliet that "What's in a name? that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet"?

In the Bible, some persons were named after the circumstances of their birth. Rachel laboured so much during Benjamin's birth that as she gave up the ghost, she named him Benoni (meaning son of my sorrow). Jacob eventually renamed him Benjamin (meaning son of my right hand). Today, people name their children for different reasons or no apparent reason except for it being cool or unusual. I still can't figure out the reason for the choice Blanket (Michael Jackson's son). Kenya (meaning, Animal Horn. Parents - Quincy Jones & Natassja Kinski ). Little Pixie (meaning, fairy. Parents - Bob Geldof & Paula Yates)

Personally, I believe our lives respond to what we are called. So, I would prefer to be called a name that tells me and continually reminds me that I am to be "rich", "famous", a "leader", or an "honourable" person to mention a few virtues. Jesus (Saviour or Deliverer) Christ (Anointed One) was so named because He is the Saviour of the world. That name, Jesus, not only described His ultimate purpose but also served as a continual reminder to Him of the essence of His coming to earth. That my name means "rich"or "famous" may not ultimately make me rich or famous but at least it would steer me from being "poor" or "unknown" by always reminding me of my label. That I believe.

8 comments:

JustDB said...

Interesting take.. Guess my point about a 'self-fulfilling prophecy' was that being called 'rich' or'poor' does not automaticaly translate to one being rich or poor. Be that as it may, hearing the same name time and time again potentially can lead to the re-inforcement of negative behavioural patterns. I still think the individual has a choice...

Dabizniz said...

I chose not to answer my name as I can't live up to it so Danny B has a point

Deedo said...

DB: I understand your initial point. what i don't understand is where the individual has a point. do you mean that if my name is 'Stupid', can I choose to act smart even where 'Stupid'is what I've heard all my life, especially when as a child with a very impressionable mind?

Deedo said...

Dabizniz: pls clarify. does your name mean something negative or positive? have you changed it because you feel you "can't live up to it"?

JustDB said...

@Deedo -- Yes, my point is that people can choose to change just about anything about their lives, even their names. Being called 'stupid' all one's life doesn't mean that one has to stay stupid. It might increase the probabilty of being stupid, but it doesn't make it an absolute certainty that the person will be stupid.At each stage in life people have to take descisions. Jacob didn't have to resort to trickery to earn the blessing, Esau didn't have to sell his birthright. They all decided, and the consequences came as a result of the choice.

Being called a trickster might have given him the confidence to go ahead with the plan (which by the way was hatched by his mother), but it didn't destine him to do it in my opinion.

Writefreak said...

Hmmm i also agree that a name is a prophetic thing, it does not mean though that every one will be according to their names! Other things have to be in place

Deedo said...

DB: I agree with your point. sound opinion. very well explained

Deedo said...

Writefreak: well said. thanks for stopping by