general newsletter

What’s in a Name? – Message From the CEO

November 7, 2019

Many of us can recall the childhood playground rejoinder: “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Perhaps not always successful in devastating your adversary, but, at least, it mostly worked to end a verbal sparring match. And, most importantly, this phrase served as a reminder that our names are treasured by us and worthy of protection.

Increasingly, we hear derogatory nicknames and descriptive appendages from our elected officials and political campaigns. Clearly, this is a defense mechanism. And, a way of shifting attention from the issues to personalities. We know from our reframing work that using the wrong kind of language can drive a divide between the subject of the description and the listener, leading to the kind of “othering” that results in an “us vs. them” mentality.

I understand how six year olds can get into name-calling spats. Their brains are a long way from being fully matured. We would hope that our elected officials have progressed beyond their youthful playground selves and would engage in a discussion of the issues. If they don’t, maybe we should stop listening to them and find another playground.

Lee Sherman, President & CEO