Monday, November 1, 2010

What's in a name?

     Interesting thoughts come to mind when I think of the question "What's in a name?".  One thought comes to mind when I think of my given name. Not Donald of course but "Levine".  Over the years I've been asked countless times, "Are you related to this "Levine" or that "Levine?" It's a pretty interesting conversation usually that follows. I've been asked "Are you related to the "insurance" company owners?",  or "Were you a relative of the "coat factory" owners?" The answer always is "No" of course in a kind way. Over the years I've discovered that the name "Levine" seems to be prejudged. It seems that people believe that I'm a relative of the owner of "something".  It's even been a common thought that my name usually says that I'm a certain religion.  Too often we seem to "analyze" a person by his or her name and pre-determine that they are a certain religion, certain race, or from a certain ethnic background. It even seems to determine in some thought patterns of individuals that a person's name equates to a level of wealth(economic standing) in our world.
     I'll give you one example for now and write a little more on this "subject" matter a little later.  I was speaking to a person when I first met them and introduced myself saying my first and last name.  There next question was "where do you practice"?  I said "practice" in a questioning manner.  Catching on to what they were eluding to I then said " depends on what sport or activity I'm doing or training for.  They smiled and then said "no"! what synagogue do you go to for services?"  I smiled and cordially said "I'm not of that religion.  The person a day or so later so me and "apologized" for assuming that I was of the faith.  
    I'm perplexed at times the narrow mindedness and thoughtless statements people make based on a name. Too often names are mispronounced, spelled wrong, and in this case used to determine a whole host of qualities in a person.  
    It's fascinating to think. I will share more examples in a later post.  Hope that makes sense to you. My message therefore is don't judge a person by their name, get to know them and to understand them before assuming they are this or that based on their given name.

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