Name-Calling

By the time I was six years old and in the first grade, I’d learned to not call people names. If I did it, I got in trouble. I learned to do unto others as I’d have them do unto me. I learned it was important and right to love other people and to treat them kindly.

In elementary school, I learned the name put to bad behavior toward others—bullying. I learned that bullies put others down to lift themselves up. I learned that bullies have problems within.

I learned rules from the Bible—at home, at Sunday School, and at school. I learned not to bear false witness against people. That means lying, speaking falsely and unjustly, or deceiving.

I read the commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” What does that even mean? I used to think it meant saying God’s name with a cuss word.

But looking more deeply, does it mean to use God’s name in a wrong and empty way, to assign authority to beliefs and behavior in his name, when said beliefs and behavior are not of him and are contradictory to the Bible? Does it include our claiming to be of him, when we believe things or do things or support things that are obviously not of him, thus bringing shame to his name and damage to his character?

In our new world 2017 AC, name-calling is apparently accepted. Putting people down, saying false things, saying any adjective that will stick with that person for all time . . . it’s the new thing to do. I don’t like it. I’ve done it, and I don’t feel good about myself when I do. But even in the world of good people, of Christian Evangelicals and conservative Christians, it is given a go-ahead. Somehow, some way, Christians are willing to close their Bibles, put them on dusty shelves, and open their hearts in support of the one leader in our country who is so adept at name-calling. And not only that, they assign the name “Christian” to that one.

I just don’t understand. I really, really don’t.

But to help everybody out, The Failing New York Times has provided a list of examples. We can consult this list to learn how to effectively name-call—how to break the bones of our enemies, or even the ones who’ve legitimately called out something wrong we’ve done or said. After all, in our new world, we must get them back!

Here are a few examples of slams and slurs to draw from as we go about our days:

Low-energy Jeb Bush. Lyin’ Ted. Little Marco. Liddle Bob Corker—incompetent, couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee. Leakin’ James Comey—a leaker! Sloppy Steve Bannon. Cryin’ Chuck Schumer. Dummy John McCain—has done nothing! Total Dud John Kasich. Sleazy Adam Schiff. Al Frankenstein. Failed Presidential Candidate Lindsey Graham—I ran him out of the race like a little boy. Kooky Roberts. Pocahontas. So Totally Biased Shep Smith. Dope Brit Hume. FoxNews Flunky Charles Krauthammer. Unelectable Jeff Flake—toxic, weak, sad. Little Rocket Man. Hillary-flunky Meryl Streep—one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood. Ruth Bader Ginsburg—her mind is shot. Really Sad Mitt Romney—a total joke. Low-Life Lisa Belkin. Dumb as a Rock Mika Brzezinski. Very Weak Paul Ryan.

Here’s a link to 421 people, places, and things our president has insulted on Twitter—a complete and ongoing list. Thousands of slams and slurs! This is our brave new world and our newly molded Christian mindset.

Nobody’s perfect. We’re all guilty of something. We’ve all sinned. We’ve all done this maybe a little. I did in my teen days and lived to regret it. But this list . . . this seems like an awful lot of name-calling.

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River Like Life

A walk to the river became a New Year’s Day tradition when I had my golden retriever and lived in Fieldstone Farms in the late 1990s. I continued the tradition with my first cocker spaniel. A branch of the Harpeth River snaked across the northern edge of the street next to mine, and there are walking trails in Fieldstone, so I’d walk the dog first on the trails and then through an open field of dead, brown grass and dried stalks of weeds to the tree-lined rocky river. We’d stand on the hard-mud bank and watch the trickling flow.

Why a walk to the river? I suppose because a river is a good symbol for life—for the journey we take over the years from one point to a far point in the future, from beginning to destination. A river is good inspiration and shows us how to journey on.

The river has movement. Water keeps flowing onward. No matter what, it keeps going. It doesn’t stop—doesn’t get distracted, doesn’t get down and quit, doesn’t lose its focus and purpose. I wish people were made like that. I’d stand on the path at the edge of Lynnwood Branch and watch the water rush westward, and I’d get caught up in the thought that I should keep moving forward, too, and hopefully, with the same momentum, the same compulsion to “get there,” wherever “there” is.

The river finds a way. Slabs of rock sit beneath the flow, and big rocks and boulders stand in the way of the water, but the river peels off around or over the obstacles, driven to move on. The river keeps going around fallen trees and strainers. The river doesn’t stop at the obstacles and give up. I wish people could do that. People tend to look outside themselves, at others, at a higher being for rescue from obstacles, and not to the power within, like the river does. The river has its own energy and draws from it to get around. We have our own power source, too, without and within at the same time. At the river’s edge, I’d stare at frothy-white riffles pouring around rocks and look for meaning for me.

The river has highs and lows. Just like people do, like I do. Sometimes the river is full, deep, and faster moving, and other times it is low and trickling. Either way, it still has a push to get to its destination, to complete its purpose, to be and do. I need the river’s inspiration.

I live in a section of my new neighborhood that is in a U-shape, bordered by Aenon Creek. So today, January 1, I will continue the tradition of going to the river seeking an example for the new year.  Even though upon awakening it was one degree outside, with a chill factor of a negative five, I will dare to get out of my Cuddl Duds pajamas, wrap up, and walk to the river with my new cocker spaniel. I need to see the creek moving on and finding its way, even though today it might be at a low.

Happy new year to all, and may you find hope and example at the river.