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The power of a name

Confessions of a realistic pollyanna

In the Harry Potter series, almost everyone is afraid to speak Lord Voldemort's name. The bulk of the characters call him he who must not be named. There are two notable exceptions. Professor Dumbledore, who leads opposition to Voldemort's ways, and Harry Potter who has faced, and continues to face the powers of evil. In Harry Potter, the power of names is very clear.

This is not a new concept. In the bible, especially in the Gospel of Mark, the power of people's names is revealed. The demons keep trying to name Jesus for who he is- the son of the most high God, the all powerful for instance. They are trying to gain control over him. Jesus immediately tells the demons to be quiet, demonstrating that they have no power over him.

Names are important. As a child, when ever my mother used my full name Darren James Liepold, I knew I was in trouble. When she just called me Darren, things were fine. At school I was called nicknames. Some of these would be fine, others were hurtful. And in meeting new people, it is very important to remember their names (a skill which I sometimes struggle with).

This week, Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand said that she would not use the name of the man who attacked the two mosques in Christchurch last week. She said that to say his name, gave him power, gave him his fifteen seconds of fame, and gave him notoriety. In thinking about this, I think she is totally correct.

There have been so many mass murders over the past 30 years around the world. I remember one of the first ones, the murder of 14 university aged women who were killed by an anti feminist in Canada in 1989. His name was used so many times in the media, I will never forget it, but at this point I can't name any of his victims. And that is wrong. The victims are the ones needing to be remembered not the shooter.

In the same way, I need to remember the victims of last weeks atrocity. One was a cardiologist, another a dentist, and another was a 3 year old boy. A woman died making sure her disabled husband was safe. One man died trying to tackle the gunman. I need to reflect on their stories. But the man who committed such an act of hate, does not need to be remembered. His act of evil does not need to be glorified. Even though the news channels talked so much about him and showed his picture on tv hundreds of times, I do not need to remember him.

I also need to reflect on those who, like me, were shocked by last week's crime. And those who did good deeds in light of the crime. The man who stood vigil at the mosque in England so that worshippers would be safe. The paramedics and hospital staff who worked hard to save lives in the midst of such evil. Prime Minister Ardern who through her compassion has shown herself to be a true leader. The citizens of Christchurch and New Zealand who came together in grief. These are the stories that need to be remembered. Blessings.

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