Tuesday, April 27, 2010

If Nothing Else, Name Me

Had lunch last week with someone who used to be a county councillor for one of the political parties. I mentioned that in some of our local election literature (guess who from), it refers to 'Tory' without naming the candidate, whilst referring to its own person by name several times.

He responded that one of the rules of campaigning where he'd been councillor was that you never referred to your opponent by name. It may make political sense, but I was quite taken aback. Naming is right at the core of creation - Adam and Eve are named to signify who they are, they are given the power of naming the creatures, and all through the Bible the names of the characters, not least of God himself, are more than mere labels, they say something deep and important about the people themselves. A name is a source of identity, revelation, personhood, dignity, value.

So to deny someone a name is dehumanising, it's a refusal to treat them as a person of equal standing with myself. To be created in God's image is to be named - singled out by our name as of unique value, singled out by our name as an indicator of our purpose, character, and hopes. At baptism we work on the 'christening' element by asking the father to name the child. That power of naming is a way of conferring identity, as an act of love, and a taking of responsibility for them.

And a political party which refuses to name, and therefore dignify, its opponent - what would they do to anyone else who dares to stand against them or disagree with them? It may be a trivial thing, but it's really bugging me.

1 comment:

  1. David, don't you realise that if candidates named their opponents they would quickly be accused of focussing on personalities rather than policies? It seems you can't win on this one. In my view it is good that our British elections are not like the American decision based more on the person than the policy, although with these election debates we are heading that way.