What is in a name?

My name is rather common and plain. It is not one you would mispronounce unless you are seeking do so with purpose. In my travels, work life, and friendship circles, I have met and married and associated and navigated relationships with many folk. Some with hard to pronounce names and others with exceedingly easy for my tongue to recall. 
The thing that has irked me the most are people I meet from far away shores who live near me here in America who have absolutely lovely names. Names that their parents almost certainly thought long and hard about. Perhaps discussed long into the night. Prayed over. Had ceremonies to imbue the name. But as soon as an American mispronounced the name, they would alter its pronunciation simply to ease tensions, calm prejudices, or worse ‘Americanize’ the name. Whatever that means. I met a young man who enjoys Chinese heritage. He was introduced to me as Lee. Upon further discussion I learned it’s spelled Le. So I asked him, “Is your name Lee or Le?” He replied Le, but everyone pronounces it Lee. I asked why that was so when that was not his given name? He supposed that “… It was easier for Americans to call him that.” I was saddened that a man would lose his identity and nationality. Le is Chinese. Lee is typically Japanese. I had never yet called him Lee and do not intend to start. 

Then my mind wandered, as it often does, to the bible. I began to wonder why is the name of the persons in the sixty six books so important? Their lineage. Their surnames. Their heralding comes from their name. Someone is always named something son of someone or somebody daughter of something. More than that, the name is rarely Americanized. Beersheba.  Malachi. Uzziah. Gershom. Abram. All are uniquely biblical but are not so complex that they defy repetition. But others are complex and clearly without much amusement from its original pronunciation. Aminadab. Naasson. Obed. (Matthew 1:4,5) Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai (Numbers 1:6) 
But then the is Mary and Joseph. Mary? Joseph? I’m pretty sure these names are not common in the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. So what we’re their names? I looked. 

Mary was Maria Mariam pronunced mar-ee’-ah mar-ee-am’ or mirjam. 

Joseph was Iōsēph pronounced ee-oh-safe’

Honestly I like their original names better. They speak more to their namesake and heritage and direction in life. The appropriation of their names for the palatability of the masses is of little interest to me. I hope that in time I will slowly replace their common speak names with the names spoken by Γαβριήλ, or as we pronounce it, Gabriel an angel of the LORD. 

It is my prayer that we seek to know one another better. To seek relationship with one another as human to human. Heart to heart. And it starts with a name. Our real name. 


My chest got tight

It’s a pleasant afternoon. I’ve just left a quaint New England town in New Hampshire after purchasing a nice art piece in Maine from a fabulous artist. Don’t get excited, I spent all of $20.00. Hardly a big purchase. Now I’m in my car returning home and on the radio is a favorite talk radio show I enjoy. I’m about to turn to the music when the host mentions Matt Lauer and his interview of a CEO. I figured something was up when he said he’s not one to criticize fellow interviewers but instead played “the clip” without verbal judgement.

After hearing it, my chest clenched oh and my head spun. I could not believe what I’d just heard.

Let me look back before I spill the beans on the interview.

I’ve been a professional in my chosen field for over a decade. Worked in several cities and towns. I’ve had great success in the career I’ve chosen. Been fortunate enough to have a tremendous support network of friends, family and folk. For each of those jobs I’ve had to endure the painful process of an interview.

“So, what made you apply for this job?”
“Tell me about yourself.”
“What do you consider your greatest challenge?”
“So,” pregnant pause. “Why are you leaving your old job?”

And on and on and on. So many questions that are at once inane and also invasive. But apparently they feel these questions will give the interviewer a powerful insight into whether the applicant will be a good fit in the corporate structure. That notion is debatable but they ask away anyway and I as the applicant happily answer the questions because I want the job. Sometimes badly.

I’m asked about my past experience. I’m asked about my education. I’m subjected to questions about my certifications. Many questions are thrust at me about the vagaries and minutiae of my knowledge bank. I’m scrutinized about my ability to present myself well or not. My depth of field or narrowness of vision wheee leadership is concerned.

My entire professional life is questioned, weighed, and measured. If I’m lucky I get the offer. Tender. Gratuitous. Under paid. Well compensated. Whatever. The goal is to get the position and move on with my career life. So I’m not entirely fussed by it all. It’s normal. It’s what I expect.

What I don’t expect is what Mary Barra had asked of her by Matt Lauer. He had the reckless audacity. The unmitigated gall. The poor judgement to ask her the one question that no professional interviewer would ever ask. Possibility because it’s now considered sexist. Possibly because it’s considered irrelevant to most folks job skills. Possibly because it’s against the law. Whatever the reason, I have never heard that question asked of me. But Mary did.

And my chest tightened up when I heard it.

She was effectively asked, “So, woman. What makes you think you can have it all? Huh? What makes you feel, because I am not convinced you were thinking. What makes you FEEL that you can possibly be an effective leader of this fine institution and somehow be the job you should be working. In a kitchen, at home, with your kids, where you belong?”

Don’t worry. I’ll wait to see what the appropriate response to this line of questioning is.

I’m still waiting. Because there really isn’t one. There’s no having a logical or reasonable dialogue with anyone who begins with that mindset. Well yes there can be a firing back of why he never asked the same question of a man in that same position. But it’s probably moot considering his mind is already corrupted since the question came from his mind to begin with.

Perhaps one day the questions will stop. One day the double standard will be no more. Maybe one day.