What's in a Name? and The Fading of 9/11
Here are the two posts which I orignially was unable to post here but was posted on my substitution blog "Bioethics Discussion Blog2". I now include them in this blog for completeness.
Monday, September 12, 2005
What's in a Name?>
From the September 11, 2005 issue of the New York Times
EACH Katrina is handling the problem in her own way.
One, Katrina Petrillo, 13, an eighth grader at Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Manhattan, got so tired of being mocked as "Hurricane Katrina" by her summer vacation acquaintances that she told teachers on the first day of school on Thursday that she is now going by "Kat."
A wonderful narrative of a mother speaking to her daughter named Katrina was posted on the Medical College of Wisconsin bioethics listserv and I am reproducing it below with the permission of the author.
What's in a Name?
by Grace Fill
It's 2:30 in the morning and I'm safe and warm in my tent on what
may be the last really great camping weekend in northern Illinois this season.
I'm enjoying a rare bout of inadvertently caffeine-induced insomnia and my thoughts
inevitably turn to my now grown and only daughter, Katrina. It is less than a
week since the hurricane of the same name struck the gulf coast.
For Katrina, the daughter, it is suddenly troublesome to bear a name which
is associated with so much destruction and terror and suffering. Her name
will be forever linked to the worst natural catastrophe in the history of the
United States. Overnight the entire country knows how to pronounce and spell her
once uncommon name (Catarina, did you say? Krystina?)
Katrina, the hurricane, though no longer physically present, has
left chaos, uncertainty, violence and unspeakable horror. It is these negative aspects
that cause embarrassment for my daughter now when she is asked her name.
But Katrina, the hurricane, may also wield her power for good, shining an immense light into some profoundly dark places. In her wake lies also tremendous opportunity. Perhaps Katrina, the hurricane, will one day be seen as a
very critically needed wake-up call, Mother Nature's way of delivering a message
in no uncertain terms.
In the weeks and months and years ahead, no doubt there will be endless
debate about homeland security and the failure of our federal government, whose
focus is so much and so tragically elsewhere, to care righteously and properly
for its own citizens. But talk is cheap, very cheap indeed.
Katrina, the hurricane, has brought some things to light that cannot be
further ignored. The human beings who have suffered the most in New Orleans are
the same human beings who have lived in poverty for generations. And if we
choose to see, in the light that Katrina so amply provides, if we choose not to
turn away from a truth that existed before the winds, before the flooding,
before the cries of betrayal, if we have the courage to look, it is clear:
Poverty makes people vulnerable. The same poverty that makes people vulnerable to
disease, to ignorance, to violence, to early deaths, makes human beings
vulnerable in times of crisis, during natural disasters, and in the wake of catastrophe. A system that perpetuates poverty, perpetuates vulnerability. If we couldn't see this before, the force and power of Katrina ought certainly to make
it visible to us now.
And so, Katrina, my daughter, let me say this: You are no longer a
child, but I am still and will always be your mother. Allow me, if you will,
one more opportunity to offer some motherly advice, woman to woman, as you make your way as a young adult into our uncertain world. You are a strong force, not
unlike the hurricane that shares your name. Bear your beautiful name with
pride, Katrina. Know your power and use it wisely. Shine your awesome light into
the dark places and do not cower in the face of what you see there. Have
compassion, daughter for all living beings. Care about the most vulnerable, as
you always have. Keep doing what you can to help make this world a
What do YOU think about the ethics of assigning a persons name to a hurricane for identification purposes. Has anyone thought before about the emotional and social implications of that naming of a destructive event to the person with the same name? ..Maurice.
posted by Maurice Bernstein, M.D. @ 12:19 PM
Sunday, September 11, 2005
The Fading of 9/11
Petula Dvorak writing in today’s September 11
Washington Post discusses the possibility, as suggested by historians, that the 9/11 date and what happened on that day will fade as the years go on with the day becoming another Labor Day, Memorial Day, Presidents’ Day. Even December 7, the day that the United States was attacked, Pearl Harbor bombed, “a date that will live in infamy” is probably only vaguely in the memories of those who were not alive then.
Though the media describe some memorials going on today throughout the nation, I would guess that most of the population of the United States and certainly those from the Gulf Coast are thinking of the consequences of hurricane Katrina. And when you think about it, why not? Almost 3000 individuals lost their lives on 9/11 but they are gone and the most personal effects of their deaths is being carried year after year by their living loved ones. In a way, the New Orleans and Gulf Coast disaster has produced a even more profound loss of life---actually a loss of the lives, the living lives of over a million people or more. And they live to daily suffer the losses and uncertainties. In addition, the physical damage to the city of New Orleans and the other affected communities within three states, represent far more to rebuild and rehabilitate then essentially a couple of towers in New York. So I am not surprised if September 11 is found to be fading today.
You know, beyond the damage and loss of life or lives, there is an awful similarity between the two events. Have you also noticed too that our country and our government was unprepared for either? ..Maurice.
posted by Maurice Bernstein, M.D. @ 10:09 PM