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What’s In A Name?

March 18, 2019

Another tragedy has occured. This time on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. A madman walked into a house of worship, two in fact, and slaughtered 50 people. He wanted to kill more. He apparently wanted to kill all.

He’s insane. Even if he’s not clinically, or criminally insane, anyone who carries that much hate and thinks the way to address it is to hurt others is literally not of sound mind.

You’ve no doubt heard about the tragedy. Just as you probably heard about the last one. And the one before that. All the way back to the Columbine massacre which is kind of thought of as the beginning of the current craziness.

This post isn’t about guns, or school shootings, or policy. Well, not government policy.

My name is Rodney M Bliss. (Hopefully that was already obvious since the blog site is I sign my emails with my electornic signature. If I’m being more casual, I might sign them simply “Rodney.”

But, that’s not what my lovely wife calls me. That’s not what my brothers call me, or my cousins, or my mother, or my closest friends. They all call me Rod.

Occasionally, a work collegue who first meets me will presume to call me Rod. If they ask, I correct them. If they are good friends, I’ll reply,

My friends call me Rod. You can call me Rodney.

It gets a laugh, but I’m also serious. In my own private little world, it’s a big deal when you go from calling me Rodney to calling me Rod. My name is currency and you only get to spend it if I offer it to you.

Salespeople understand the power of a name. They will use your name to attempt to establish a rapport. If they can get you on a first name basis, they are half way toward establishing a relationship of trust. That’s what names do. They help us build trust. They are the most personal of our possessions. More personally even than our bodies. Someone can abuse your body, but they cannot take your name unless you give it to them.

Names have power.

I don’t know the name of the killer in New Zealand. I’m sad to say that I don’t know the names of the victims either. But, I would be honored to hear their names. I don’t care to ever hear the name of the murderer.

It’s the same for the other tragedies and murderers. I don’t want to know the killers’ names. I think it’s important for us to understand the details of what lead up to each tragedy and discuss how to prevent them, or at least to limit their scope.

But, the names of the killers? I don’t have any interest in them. With this latest tragedy, I’ve seen some news stories that suggest the world should adopt a similar strategy. The killers crave attention. They want notoriety. They seek fame. Something our modern social media is perfectly suited to provide. Facebook worked quickly to remove the video of the latest shooting. They took down over 1.5M copies.

So, if you want to do something. If you are angry and want to do your part to make a difference, even a small one. Remember the power of names, the currency that is in a name.

And stop spending that currency on the killers.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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