What's in a name? 

Anand Krishna, Jakarta

There are people who think and feel little about the name given them by their 
parents, and there are others who hold their names in high esteem. To "what's 
in a name", some would argue that, "it's my name at stake".

There are people who name their children following the latest trend. No wonder 
there are so many Toms, Dicks and Harrys among us. At the same time, there are 
parents who meditate deeply before naming their children. 

I am certain that our parents - like the parents of our present leaders - did 
not name us "just like that". Whoever gave the name Sukarno to one of our 
founding fathers did hope that "he would have a pair of good ears", that he 
would do more listening than talking. 

Just look at the name of our President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Yudhoyono 
implies "yudha" or "war". It is readiness, preparedness to go to war. In the 
modern context, it would mean the "readiness and preparedness to face the 
challenges of life and profession". Yet, it is not mere readiness. It is much 
more than that. The word "Susilo" implies "righteousness". "Bambang" was common 
among Javanese warriors. Therefore, "Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono" would mean "a 
warrior who is ready to face the challenges of life in a righteous manner". 

Then we have Vice President Yusuf Kalla. The prophet Joseph or Yusuf was one of 
the most handsome and charming of prophets. He was also a dreamer. He was a man 
of vision. "Kalla" is perhaps a distortion of the word "kaala" meaning "time". 
The name would therefore mean, "one who is ready to adapt to changing times in 
debonair way". 

We still have a couple of names to dissect and understand, like House of 
Representatives (DPR) Speaker Agung Laksono, "Agung" means "great or majestic". 
"laksono" is "goal" also "lakshan" or the "potential to reach the goal in a 
dignified manner". 

Then we have People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid, 
"the light of God", "the mercy of the most compassionate one". 

Soeharto is another wonderful name: "to earn one's living honestly and spend 
wisely". Our names are meant to project our potential, the best in us. Our 
names are meant to remind us that such potential is realizable, and that we 
must work hard to achieve this. At the same time, names are also meant as 
warnings if we go off the straight and narrow and do not live up to them. 

We all have different names, yet we have one thing in common which is the "core 
meaning" of our names. And that core meaning is "humanity". Our names are 
gentle reminders that we are all human. We belong to one big family of 
humankind. We share the same earth and same sky. 

Alas, we have forgotten this motto of "sharing". Therefore, we no longer care 
for each other. In the process, we fall from our humanity, human decency and 
dignity. We have descended to the level of beasts. 

The violence we see around us is but a projection of the beast within us, the 
animal within us. We have, in our ignorance, turned society into a jungle. We 
are worse than the animals, for they do not kill others of their own species. 
We kill each other. 

When one of us is being violently attacked by another, most of us remain 
silent. We think it is not our business. When your church is being burned, I 
keep quiet. I lock myself inside my house. I feel I am safe there. I forget 
that the hands which are raised to burn your church can also burn my house. 

Those who are in power and in a position to defend the defenseless are afraid 
to do so. They are more concerned about their own power and position. The thugs 
around us, the robbers take full advantage and rob us in broad daylight. 

Our seniors, our leaders, our religious ministers would rather visit the 
violent attackers than those who were attacked. What are they trying to show? 
What example are they trying to set? 

The souls of our parents are crying out, "We named you with great expectations, 
great hopes..... Alas, what have you done?" Unfortunately, we do not hear their 
cries. Or, perhaps we have deliberately turned a deaf ear. 

We are living in trying times, when our humanity is put at stake. All that is 
good in us is at stake. Our human dignity and decency are at stake. 

We have given in to violence. We feel it is alright to do so, since those who 
were attacked are not our family members. We do not know, we do not realize 
that in doing so, we cease to be leaders. We have reduced ourselves to ordinary 
men and women only concerned with our own and our families' safety. 

We have forgotten the meaning and the value of names given us by our parents. 
We have been setting a very bad example before our own children and 
grandchildren. It is too late now, no repentance is possible. Now, the 
countdown to final justice begins from this very moment. 

Here, in this world, history will judge our actions. 

There, in the next world, the Almighty is the greatest judge of all. 

*Spiritual Activist


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