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self portrait - circa 1996


What's In A Name?

Dear Friends:
famous crate artCalling others “bad names” have been prevalent throughout history. Bad names have been used to label gangs, nationalities (I was called a Canuck because of my French/Canadian heritage), schools, political parties, areas we live in (slums), states, and even sections of the country (rust belt).

Names have ruined status, caused children to feel awful about themselves—sometimes for a lifetime, sent others to jail (slander), and made people angry enough to war. Name calling usually connects a person to something perceived as negative; why do we do it? Does it make the caller feel superior? The name caller is only showing their ignorance, disrespect, and inability to recognize the inherent value of every living thing.

The reason for this “out-in-left-field” discussion: a customer recently asking me which woodpeckers were prevalent in our area. I started with the more common downy, red-bellied, and hairy woodpeckers, but when I said, yellow-bellied sapsucker, he recalled as a child, the group he hung around with often used the name, “yellow-bellied sapsucker” when referring to someone not liked, or perhaps for cowardly behavior--but how wrong they were…

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are amazing birds. Besides licking sap, sapsucker breeding adults will often perform harmonious drumming duets; drill perfectly spaced holes in live trees, and then tap into these wells repeatedly for tree sap; cache fruits and nuts for future nourishment, and will assist in the foraging of those foods if they sense another birds is stressed or in a weakened condition; the males take turns keeping the nestlings warm throughout the night, and more.

I would not mind being called a sapsucker, but would rather not be called anything other than my name, Louise. Tolerance and compassion for all living things is needed, especially now. Think about this the next time you are about to label someone or something other than what it is.

Louise Dawson  

Previous "Louise Notes" articles:

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
09/12/07 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2007
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