What’s in a name? Sometimes people must live up to their name. Others may use their title to advance their career. For example, Prince Harry could easily profit from his past accomplishments and family influence – or he could lose all credibility simply because it isn’t believed he could make it without those things supporting him.
Jean Valjean, from Victor Hugo’s, “Les Misérables,” worried about his label. He was arrested and imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. He became a number rather than a name. When he fled prison and encountered a priest who changed his life, he became a successful business man who made a stellar name for himself.
In Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” the hero of the story, John Proctor, has a similar situation when he is about to hang for being accused of witchcraft. In the line, “I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” he is begging for his reputation and how it would affect his children and their history.
A good reputation is something we strive for. When it’s slurred, lied about, set up to false witness and defamation, our character is at stake. God even wrote about that very thing when he forged the ten commandments into stone. “Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Being wise in how we view others isn’t always easy, especially when we have come to wonder about what we read, hear and see in the media. We can’t always discern the truth because it’s clouded by false testimony, unnecessary rhetoric or a strong desire to destroy another human being. Yet we must be diligent in the pursuit of truth, especially when it comes to the leadership of our country.
In the span of my lifetime I’ve seen a decline in mankind’s trust and faith in those around them. Instead of caring about each other, we’ve become suspicious, uncaring, lethargic and sometimes downright hateful towards our fellow man.
Yesterday I referred to a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. about the results of love. Without this light in our lives, there is only darkness. Darkness gives way to hatred and discontent. That darkness is contagious and will spread like wildfire if not contained. The power of love is far more powerful that hate. Love is also very contagious. With it we can overcome the dissonance around us and become united again.
It’s time to be open minded, but it’s also time to be diligent. When a man’s name is being challenged, we must also be compassionate. A name hangs in the balance.