What is your name?
On a recent trip I visited Israel, a land of history and conflict that dates back millennia. It was my first time, and an eye opener of an experience. I went on a National Geographic tour organized by TED Fellow Aziz Abu Sarah that featured multiple narratives – stories from all sides told by the people themselves. Woh.
I witnessed a lot, but here was one cultural curiosity that stuck with me – names are extremely important. Depending on one’s culture the importance of names varies. Think of the naming of children. Some parents pick names because they sound nice, others to honor an older generation, while others still research a name for its meaning.
Imagine now, an entire culture in which the assumption is that our name carries meaning. Both our given name and the name of our family. By the mention of your name a stranger will begin to know where you are from, what religious tradition you might come from, what ethnicity you might be, and even parts of your personality or what your parents thought you might become.
Think about the imposition this places on people, especially if they have diverted from their family’s traditions or not conformed to their given name’s meaning. Then again, think about the thoughtfulness one would have if we recognized the responsibility we have with the power of naming.