A few days ago, I stumbled upon an interesting article on the Internet. The article had to do with the most popular names for babies in Israel. The list was comprised by the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority in the nation of Israel.
For boys, it was reported the ten most popular names were – in order – Yosef, Daniel, Ori, Itai, Omer, Adam, Noam, Ariel, Eitan and David. For girls, the names were Tamar, Noa, Shira, Adele, Talya, Yael, Lian, Miriam, Maya, and Avigayil.
Here’s where things got interesting.
The list of boys names left out two names that should have appeared on the list: Mohammed (which really ranks # 1) and Ahmed (which really ranks # 9).
Some have wondred why the official list contained only Hebrew names.
Some Palestinians suggested the exclusion was representative of the systemic racial discrimination they face on a regular basis. Sabine Hadad, a spokesman for Israel’s Population, Immigration, and Border Authority, explained it differently. Hadad said, “The statistics published were the statistics requested during the past few years by everyone who contacted us to obtain this information, and for that reason the list relating to the most popular Hebrew names was issued.”
I’m not writing this entry to take sides in that debate. What I do want to point out is that when many humans organize themselves into groups, it always seems as if there are groups that get marginalized.
All of this got me to thinking about what individuals and groups are marginalized in the communities in which I move.
The truth is that there are many groups that get marginalized in many different ways in the parts of the world in which I live. While I wish I could speak up for all of the groups equally, the truth is I can’t. I have to pick a group or two and focus my energies on making them more visible. My hope in doing so is that it will inspire others to name different groups that are marginalized and raise the visibility of those groups. If each of us do our part in naming marginalized groups, we could seriously reduce – and perhaps some day totally eliminate – the marginalization of any group!
So what group have I chosen to lift up?
My passion the last few years has been those in our society who live with mental illnesses.
And what am I doing to raise their visibility?
A variety of things. I’m including issues of mental health whenever I can in my preaching. I’m talking about mental health issues with church leaders in hopes it will affect the programming in our community. In pastoral counseling situations, I’m referring individuals to the mental health resources they need. And just today, I picked up one more way of raising the visibility of those living with mental illness. I got a green ribbon to wear that shows I stand in solidarity with those individuals who are affected by mental illness.
My question for you today is this: what marginalized group in our society do you feel called to lift up?
Once you’ve identified that group, I would encourage you to get creative in terms of the ways you can make the group more visible. Think about topics you can weave into conversations with loved ones that increase their awareness of those marginalized in the community. Think about groups in our society you can support in terms of volunteer work and/or financial contributions. Be aware of those moments when the group for which you are called to advocate is left out and then advocate for their inclusion. There are hundreds of ways you can make the marginalized more visible.
My hope is the day will come when lists are prepared – and NO ONE is left out.
See you next time!