We're going to think about an area in our lives that can direct and have a big impact in our lives. That is our names. Do we take pride in our name? Do we respect our name? And do these factors direct our actions?
When we were growing up, we were taught our name was Leone, which means lion in Italian, so we had to be strong and courageous. We were to respect our name and act accordingly. We were never to cause shame to our name. I'm sure others had very similar stories.
Sometimes we made mistakes, but we learned from them. For example, I'm going to tell you how I was expelled from kindergarten.
I was 4 years old and my mother had to go to work in the canning factory, so I was allowed to go to kindergarten and stay for two years. Well, one day the teacher (may she rest in peace) gave me a piece of paper and told me to cut out a rabbit. I said I didn't know how. She insisted I do it, and I insisted I couldn't. She slapped me, and I swore at her. I have no idea what I said. Anyway, she locked me in the bathroom. I cried to get out and she refused. So I put the plug in the basin, put down a toilet seat and stood on it. When the water leaked out, she threw me out and I went home. I lived at the end of Eagle Street, and it was one straight shot. Well, I had to go back with my parents. We all apologized and I was back in school. After that I was a model pupil, and I graduated with honors. Before I leave this story, I want to make one observation - that was pretty sharp thinking for a 4-year-old! I often think it was a preview of coming distractions. When I have a problem, I do something about it! Hopefully something more constructive.
Now let's go back to our names and how they shape our lives. When we are indoctrinated with the importance of keeping a good reputation, all that teaching influences us into having good behavior patterns. Let's look at our loyalties. Besides being loyal to our families, we are loyal to our school, our classmates, our sports teams and so on. We also have loyalties to our churches. We try to abide by the principles we are taught in church. Our societies have standards also. Some times they are in conflict with our other standards. We have to choose which are best for us.
One of the things missing in the lives of our students today is the lack of standards in the home and so on down the line. Do the parents talk to the parents of the children who play together? Do people in the homes, the schools, the churches and our society talk about bullying, hitting, stealing, name calling, etc. And in their place, do parents push for good language, laughter, good deeds, helping each other, helping their teachers, having high regard for other people's property? Give praise, give alternatives. We do have choices. If we're smart enough to talk together, we'll see the alternatives we have. Talk, listen and then act wisely. Try it!
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org