It requires very little skill to be a naysayer. Naysayers are a lot like Henny Penny, running around crying, “the sky is falling,” merely because Chicken Little said it was so. Naysayers can do a lot of damage, and they do so without any accountability. Sometimes, I think their recklessness is akin to shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.
What’s interesting about the folktale and the central character, Henny Penny, is that what spawned the declaration of “the sky is falling” was an acorn falling from the sky, a fairly normal occurrence. Rather than think, “oh, gee; an acorn just fell out of the tree above me,” Henny Penny insisted on injecting histrionics into the mix.
A few weeks ago, I got to see a modern day update of Henny Penny in action. It was in a neighboring town struggling with the fallout wrought by economic changes that have been decades gaining momentum. Rather than recognizing the serious nature of the situation, these local Chicken Littles, and a group of other naysayers were happy to “go along,” scapegoating local government, baiting local councilors, and engaging in actions that have become the norm in community after community across the country.
Everything about government isn’t bad, just like everything about private business isn’t positive or exemplary. This is an example of an either-or fallacy, binary thinking at its worst, and behavior that has caused the degeneration of politics, bringing them to a toxic place where finding compromise is always viewed as weakness, rather than strength.
There was a time not too long ago (certainly in my lifetime) when government wasn’t always offered as a convenient and easy scapegoat. To hold to that narrow narrative shows a deep-seated ignorance and even cynicism about how systems and organizations operate. Merely offering “no” as a solution to every question doesn’t make you wise, practical, or particularly heroic.
Providing options, ideas, and daring to dream isn’t something we should scoff at. Offering solutions open you up to being wrong. It requires taking chances; sometimes taking chances means that you choose the wrong door—door #1, when you should have chosen door #3. Door #2 might have offered a hybrid solution.
Of course refusing to choose a door offers immunity from risk, prevents criticism, and allows you continue being smug. It also keeps you coming up short on any potential of being rewarded for your innovation, something the 21st century requires.