I have a lot on this thought, so here's another post. Several things happened in the past week that had me thinking again, on the words we use.
This past weekend was hockey again. Yes, they were chanting "You Suck" again. I guess the upside of our team's pathetic performance was we didn't score all that often, so we didn't hear it all that often! I read during the games. I like to do it. I watch the game, I read during intermission, and since the game sucked so badly on Saturday, I freely admit I read during the 2nd and 3rd period as well. But I'm not unaware of what's going on around me. It was a sea of black and cardinal, our schools colors, the Husky logo was everywhere. Then there was a smattering of the purple and white of the opponent. It's nothing like when we play either NDSU or the University of Minnesota. When those teams are in town, there are big blocks of Green/White and Maroon/Gold. The cheerleaders led us in chants of the school name, S - C - S - U! The crowd roars in approval. The entire focus is to divide us in to Us and Them. We shout that we're Number One, they yell back.
It's all justified as all in good fun. It's just a way to get the crowd in to the game. But it's more, it's an identity. I'm a Vikings fan, a Twins fan, a Wild fan. Team colors, mascots, uniform designs are all copyrighted, they are carefully crafted and they are sold to fans to give them a group identity. Much the same way that I have a state identity. Which does seem to be quite similar to a sports team. There are state birds, fish, trees, flowers and even in MN a state muffin (Loon, Northern Pike, Norway Pine, Ladyslipper, and Blueberry.) All done to cement my identity as a Minnesotan. As opposed to an Iowan, or Wisconsinite. Then we have a national flag, national anthem, national bird, all to make sure that we know that we are different from Canadians and Mexicans, and anyone else on the globe.
I'm going to wander for a bit. Last weekend we decided to get out of the house. Because it's January in Minnesota, it's cold and snowy. A trip to the MN Zoo seemed perfect. That Tropics trail sounded like a small slice of ammonia scented heaven. The trip had it's usual moments of pure excitement that only a 3 year old can generate, long discussions that they were raccoons argued by the three year old, "uhuh, coons. oooh, look! kitty!" It also had a few moments of tears and too many people. On the way out we stopped at the gift shop. One of the items we picked up was a book. It's all about animals, not that big of a shock I would imagine. What it includes is the name of the animals as a group. My guess is you know a lot of them. Pride of lions, Band of gorilla's. I learned that crocodiles are a Float, and hippo's are a Bloat, which made me giggle and seemed appropriate. Parade of elephants, the manatee (see cow) is a Herd. Some of my absolute favorites: Sleuth of panda's, Wake of vultures, not to be outdone by the Murder of Crows, but my favorite of the new information was the Ambush of tigers.
How does it relate? Well it seems to me that each animal has a unifying name for a collection of it's members. One name that means a collection. As humans, I can barely count the names of the collections I'm part of. Family, co-worker, classmate, teammate, spectator, but they are all names for a role I'm taking, not simply for a collection of humans. If I go broader, I'm Minnesotan, I'm a citizen of the United States, I'm a member of July 07 (Babycenter again). But again, that's a role I'm taking. Not just a name for humans. We spend so much time and trouble to make sure we divide ourselves and identify with something outside of being human. It's no wonder that we don't identify with others, we toss it off with a casual, well you're not Minnesota, you don't understand what we deal with in the winter. You're Canadian, you can't possibly understand why this policy is so divisive. I'm dead certain that if we were to ever encounter a non-terran, we'd respond, well you can't possibly understand what we go through living 8 light minutes from Sol!
If we can come up with a name that just means a random group of humans, maybe we can start seeing that there are more things similar as humans than different. I'm not trying for some rose-colored, or color-blind glasses, but something that ties us all together. We need a cool name, something where we can all be on the same side. Let me know what you've got.