What name?


In a recent football game in Spain, a banana was thrown at a player, Dani Alves (pictured). He picked up the banana started to eat it. It was one fans attempt at Racism and one player’s stance against it.

Those who promote racism often use offensive names to undermine the humanity of people of other races. Racism understands that if we give someone a name that is belittling it will encourage people to treat the person in a belittling way. In other words, what we call things will affect the way we treat them.

In the story of humanity’s fall in Genesis 3 we see the snake understood (or started?) this. God starts by calling the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, the one from which you shall not eat (Gen 2:16). Adam and Eve know this. We see this when Eve calls it this when she responds to the snake’s first question.

However the snake renames the fruit. He calls it the one, that above all else, will make you ‘wise’. It is the one, above all others, that will make you ‘like God’ (Gen 3:5).

Today the snake is still renaming things to encourage people to misuse things. One way he does this is through Racism. But there are more subtle ways. Consider, how do we treat a drug addict whore? Or how do we treat a prodigal daughter? How do we treat the ‘lazy good-for-nothing unemployed’? Or how do we treat ‘the least of Jesus’ brothers’ (Mat 25:40)?

It does make me wonder about what words I use flippantly. It isn’t that I want to be over-the-top politically correct, but am I helping others mistreat people that God created and loves? Do I inadvertently support the snake’s agenda to rename people in a dehumanizing way?


6 thoughts on “What name?

  1. I’m officially part of a minority group. I’m Cornish. Personally I couldn’t care how much folk denigrate us Cornish, I know Cornwall’s a great county, with huge problems. If someone chooses to mock me, or the Cornish it isn’t a big deal. Why do folk allow themselves to be hurt by a few scornful words?

    The footballer here did well, but my best illustration of how to tackle insults came from a young lad who watched his family being hacked to death in Sudan.

    Mindless youths in Devon would taunt him with all manner of words, but was he bothered? Not a bit of it. He went to university in England, got on with life and even set up a charity to help his kinsmen back home. Ignatius rose above tragedy and taunts and showed a better way of living.

    Words can only hurt if you let them, the one on the receiving end has the power to overcome, rather than remain a victim. Society teaches otherwise.

    • I think you miss part of the point. It isn’t just the words that hurt people. It is that the words lead to worse behaviour. In war people come up with dehumanizing words for the opposition. Why? because it is easier to shot a ‘gerry’ or a ‘gook’ or a ‘slope’ or a ‘kaffir’ than your brother or a father or Jesus’ brother.

Thanks for reading. What do you think? Do these questions relate to you? How?

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