30 January 2009

Wedgwood, Darwin and me

My middle childhood years were spent in the beautiful countryside just to the south of where Josiah Wedgwood had his pottery factories. The Trent and Mersey Canal is near to where I played and walked and explored between the ages of nine and thirteen.

Wedgwood had the idea of building that canal, in the monetary sense of making it a reality. The engineer James Brindley first alerted him of the possibility.

One of Josiah's grandsons was Charles Darwin, whose 200th birthday will be celebrated on 12 February 2009. Without the entrepreneurial work and amorous activities of Josiah Wedgwood, we may never have had the Theory of Evolution.

How would young Darwin have found the time to study other than by having wealthy relatives? It helped, too, that Josiah Wedgwood was a friend of Erasmus Darwin, the other grandfather of Charles, who had some ideas about the origin of species himself.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England. My mother was born there too. Many of her ancestors could not even read or write. But the names of Wedgwood and Darwin are part of my heritage, and my sense of place, and my sense of being.

Josiah Wedgwood helped to put an end to slavery in the British empire. He therefore helped to give a great many people an identity as fellow humans in the eyes of others.

29 January 2009

Family Honour and Freedom

Some of the discourses on names can have hilarious aspects, but there are others that are far more serious. For example, how do you and your relatives address the topic of family honour? What does the topic mean to you? Can honour exist in the presence of oppression, bullying, fear and intimidation?
Were you told as a child to obey the ten commandments but found the one about parents could be very difficult to obey in practice? How does abusive parenting relate to ancient commands to be obedient?

A personal point of view

I prefer to think about family honour in terms of bringing honour to those who supported us through childhood, but doing so in an indirect way. Perhaps this indirect honouring may best be achieved by taking responsibility for our own educational and economic development, earning trust, and enjoying affectionate, mutual respect.

This may also be the key for true freedom, and true love.

19 January 2009

Unfortunate Connotations

This blog is for you if...

...your name has unfortunate connotations in the minds of others, or

... your name, or that of someone you care about, is often annoyingly associated with, or mistaken for, the name of someone else, or...

... your name is so common that many others on the planet seem to have been given it too, or

... you have the same name as a famous person, but find that you cannot express your own identity as a consequence, or

... a notorious villain had, or has, a similar name to yours, or

... your parents choose your name to remind them of one of their heroes and expect you to live up to that standard, or

... you have a name that everyone you meet cannot pronounce correctly, or

... your name is a constant source of amusement for other people.