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Economic Development is . . . (increasing the flow) of capital through the community and reducing its leakage.

Sticks and Stones

The martial arts master spoke to his students: “Tonight I would like to speak to you about wise speech.  Wise speech is that which is truthful, gentle, helpful, spoken from a kind heart and is timely.”

Then he spoke at great length about the harm that results from rude, mean spirited, harsh or careless words. A young disciple said, “Venerable sir, I do not understand how this can be. A stone can bruise. Theft can deprive. But words are just sounds, having no substance. I must disagree with you when you suggest they are so powerful.”

The master replied, “If you weren’t such an ignorant idiot, you’d understand. So sit down, shut up and stop interrupting.”

The startled young man fell silent, but about ten minutes later jumped to his feet, face red, eyes bulging, fists clenched, his whole body shaking.

The old man turned to him, “You seem distressed. Your gentle disposition is shattered. What happened to you?”

“You hurtled harsh insults I did not deserve. You cannot possibly be the great teacher you pretend to be. You are a fraud!”

The old man responded, “Ah, I see. It was my words that had such a transforming effect upon you. It seems you and I agree that speech can be quite powerful.”

Everyone has heard the nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (words) will never hurt me” it first appeared in The Christian Recorder of March 1862. I suppose it was intended to stop kids from punching the bullies that were teasing them and calling them names.  But, no matter how many times a person sings the rhyme it won’t change the fact that words do affect us.

It is amazing to me the power of the words. Negative words might seem pretty harmless, but science has demonstrated how harmful they actually are. When the brain is connected to an MRI scanner (a machine that can measure changes that occur in the brain) simply by flashing the word “NO” for less than one second, you see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of the brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.

What do nursery rhymes and MRI scans have to do with Economic Development? Economic Development is all about creating change. And anytime someone creates change people get anxious and worried. Even if it is the most positive change, there will be people that unleash the negative words. People are comforted with the known (even if it is negative) and threatened by the unknown (as they do not know what it will look like).

Tama County’s economy is going to see a great deal of change in the next few months (it has already started – just go try and buy a morning cup of coffee at a convenience store in Tama/Toledo). I am sure we will find ourselves on the receiving end of the negative words of some. To them I say “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but PROGRESS will never hurt me”.


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