Joseph Levitch. Leonard Slye. Issur Danielovitch. Marion Morrison. Dianne Belmont. Henry Deutschendorf, Jr. You’ve heard of them, right? They are all celebrities who had high profiles in the entertainment world. But we’ve known them by different names: Jerry Lewis, Roy Rogers, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Lucille Ball, and John Denver respectively.
Why they changed their birth-certificate names to something else is anyone’s guess. But one thing is sure: it didn’t change who they were.
A common human trait is to accept or reject others based on hair styles and color, clothing selections, cultural practices, and other personal preferences. The operative principle is that if your tastes and tendencies and life choices are different from mine, you are weird, wrong, unacceptable. To think thus – a malady that affects a substantial portion of humanity – is to miss the point that changing one’s name or exhibiting a particular fashion proclivity does not change who or what one is on the inside.
To condemn others based on external appearances or their embracing of philosophical-theological-political positions is foolish and unfair. The only measure of a person that is worthy of critique is behavior. A person dressed in a thousand-dollar tuxedo can be a self-serving cad. A homeless person in ratty garb can be a selfless individual who has as much concern for others as him/herself. In either case, what is seen on the outside of a person emanates from what is on the inside.
Key questions: What am I at the center of my being? What do I identify as core values that influence my decisions and actions? Am I aligning my outer life with my inner self?
Many seem so caught up in our busy-busy, scurry-here-scurry-there world that little time, if any, is taken to reflect on these questions. These days of enforced social-distancing and isolation provide opportunities to examine the inner self, one’s core values, and apply the revelations to daily life . . . both today and when things return to normal. A new normal might even be in the making.