Say My Name

Post Date: December 16th, 2012

In the last season of “Breaking Bad,” the character of Walter White, a genius chemist gone rogue to the meth business, tells a fellow dealer, “You know who I am. Say my name.”

“Say my name,” represents the ultimate victory of Walter’s runaway ego. It represents his id gone wild, where Walter’s demons have fully conquered his love of family and any prior moral compass. He wants to rule the world as “Heisenberg,” the man who cooks the purest meth on the planet. Demanding his name be said celebrates the evil he has fully embraced.

The Iagos, the Hitlers, and the shooters get a lot of press. Anderson Cooper tells us so from his outpost in Connecticut right now. He explained why CNN would not give the shooter’s name tonight.

I read the names of the children and adult victims of this most recent mass murder and I want us to say their names with reverence, with silence on either side, with prayer. I want to take these names in and not forget them.

I see many classic names on this list, names that have crossed centuries. I see a name I’ve never seen before. I see names from many cultures. I see names from the Bible.

I sought comfort and looked for quotations by Dr. King. In my search I found a blog by California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who remembered Dr. King less than a year ago in the wake of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her constituents being shot. Ms. Waters also held up the names of those in her community who had recently suffered another outbreak of gang violence.

Aaron Shannon Jr., 5
Kashmier James
Taburi Watson, 14
Lewis Smith

When there are no words, only silent prayer where the soul cracks open, speaking a name can be something sacred and selfless, not at all about ego. There must be something higher, the Soul says, when tragedy tries to turn us hopeless or believe the world is only full of demons. We return to the departed and their names and say, We won’t go there. 

As Fred Rogers told us, Look for the helpers. Here are more words to help us talk to our children right now.

I will look, and I will listen. There are so many beautiful names to say. Let them ring. 

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hocksprung, 47
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Russeau, 30*
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N Wyatt, 6
*Some news organizations are spelling the victim’s last name differently.


  1. Bob Mustin says:

    The pictures of these kids – almost babies – was even more poignant.

    I honestly don’t know what can be done here, politically. I’ve been looking at statistics, and these data show that less and less people own more and more guns. There are apparently some 10,000 homicides and suicides in the U.S. per year that can be attributed to handguns. So we have half the people wanting gun control to rectify this dreadful statistic, and the other half wanting everyone armed to the teeth.

    In thinking about the people who commit such acts as the one in Newtown, is it a case of a person who has so much fear, rage, etc. bottled up that such acts provide the only release? Or is it the availability of automatic weapons, in which one need only pull the trigger once to kill 10-20 people from an 80 cartridge magazine?

    Whatever the individual answer(s) to such questions, these acts are to me a form of sociological cancer, in which a single “cell” can destroy surrounding “tissue,” “organs,” and the like until it metastasizes, and the social entity dies.

    I’m trifling with hyperbole, I know, but our problem with this is many times worse than in other countries.

  2. Bob, it’s not hyperbole when our cities and suburbs are under siege from gun violence. It’s terrorism, whether a lone gunman or a gang. Thanks for posing the questions and making the metaphor. We have to reflect and mire ourselves in the doubt and painful inquiry. If we shrug it off, we are less than human, and part of the cancer consuming us.

  3. Bob Mustin says:

    I really like what you said in your reply, Lyn – it IS terrorism, a sociological terrorism, not a political one. And if we don’t become the antigens, the cancer will indeed consume us.