Calling 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.