A ventriloquist is touring the clubs and stops to entertain in a small town. He’s going through his usual run of off-color and “dumb blonde” jokes, when a well presented blonde woman in the fourth row stands on her chair and shouts: “I’ve heard just about enough of your stupid blonde jokes, you Neanderthal! What makes you think you can stereotype women that way? What connection can a person’s hair color possibly have with their fundamental worth as a human being?”
“It is morons like you that prevent women like myself from being respected at work and in our communities and from reaching our full potential because you and your anachronistic kind continue to perpetuate negative images against not only blondes, but women in general, for the sake of cheap laughs.”
“You are a pathetic relic of the past, and what you do is not only contrary to discrimination laws in every civilized country, it is deeply offensive to people with modern sensibilities and basic respect for their fellow citizens. You should hang your head in shame, you pusillanimous little maggot.”
Flustered, the ventriloquist begins to apologize, when the blonde yells, “You stay out of this Mister! I’m talking to that little jerk on your knee!”
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 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).
With Tama County’s economy going through changes, 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”.