The French have a proverb: “Bonne renommee vaut mieux que ceinture doree.” Loosely translated the meaning is, “A good name is better than gold.”
A good name. Is that a never-rock-the-boat name? An accept-the-status-quo name? An aversion to calling-power-to-account name? A go-along-to-get-along name?
What’s in a name, especially a good name? After all, it’s “more desirable that great riches,” and “to be esteemed better than silver or gold,” according to the Hebrew version of the proverb.
So pretty important, a name, a good name.
Commentators suggest that synonymous with a good name is the substance of wisdom and honesty. With riches one can get stuff. But stuffing – that which makes a man – is what matters more.
Barnes and others write that in the Hebrew version, “good” isn’t even there but rather is an insertion. Thus “a name” is contrasted to one without a name, as if the latter is nameless, non-descript, a non-entity, obscure, ignominious, so much to say zero impact, no legacy, no difference made with his life despite, even, all the amount of things that money can buy with which he surrounds himself.
But a name. Now there is value. Worth. Substance. And for evidence, such a man does not point to the toys he has gathered, in fact does not point at all. His name is his introduction and it is his name which is proudly attached to what he has to say.
Sometimes he is called names. But then that perhaps says more about the name-caller than the recipient.
He signs his name with care not a scribble. His letters to the editor are not anonymous. His Facebook page is public.
After all, “Bonne renommee vaut mieux que ceinture doree.”