Prologue: Our statue of Alice in Wonderland on the deck was knee deep in snow. Her head was covered with a tall pointed snow hat and the roses she held behind her back were not visible. She was looking out at the bird feeders where, even in 12 degree weather, ten birds of different colors and sizes were busy pecking away at the suet pack and the seeds falling from the glass cylindrical container into a trough on the rim. They would peck and quickly fly away to the bushes and trees, then return to peck again. A few would establish their position and stay, especially those on the wire container that held the suet pack. They would hang from the container and peck into the cake for up to five minutes at a time.
We have always loved the statue which we found in New York City at a store that sold art objects. She is life size and a favorite since we used her story of meeting the Cheshire Cat in the forest in our management consulting programs. The cat looked down at Alice and asked why she was crying and she said, “I’m lost and I don’t know where I’m going. “ Then, the cat smiled his slow, famous smile and responded, “ If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” My husband and I would use this story as an intro to “Management by Objectives”: The importance of developing objectives and goals first when embarking on a new program or project.
Important Words of the year 2017: At the end of each year, different professional dictionaries choose their own “word of the year”. Here are some of the choices for the 2017 year. Cambridge Dictionary chose “populism”; Merriam- Webster: “feminism,” and Dictionary .com: “complicit”. Webster explained the definition of “feminism” as “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes”. Based on the wave of explosive 2017 news stories of sexual harassment and assault by men against women , the word no longer seems to fit as a “theory”.
2017 also saw the introduction of new words and phrases into the language , particularly in the political world. When Donald J. Trump ran for president, he made popular the label, “fake news” when he felt the media had distorted the truth about his actions and words. He dubbed the free press “the enemy of the people” and castigated “The Failing New York Times” when angered by their coverage. Trump created derogatory pet names for his opponents during the nomination contest, “Lyin Ted Cruz” and “Little Marco”, followed by “Crooked Hillary, the Democratic nominee for President throughout the race. Trump continued to use the terms in his daily tweets throughout the year. Kelly Anne Conway, his spokeswoman, coined the term, “alternative facts” when the size of his inauguration crowds became an issue. That term was then used by Sean Spicer, his press secretary, despite ridicule by reporters and language experts. “Hoax” has also been employed by the president to deny Climate Change as a Chinese inspired tale to deny the conclusions of 98 percent of the world’s scientists. “Witch Hunt” is a current favorite label for the Investigation by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller III into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign.
“Make America Great Again” is the Trump label. Describing the ideology of the Trump presidency has been difficult to pin down. Some have called it “nationalism’ with the emphasis on putting America first. The impact of the use of words by Donald Trump in his daily tweets or his interviews, since he has only given one traditional press conference , is the repetition of his words. It is one of his most salient characteristics. When he wants to introduce or emphasize a charge or a new idea, he will say it many times. For example, when he accused Barack Obama of creating the terrorist group, ISIS. He was at a rally with thousands of people and kept repeating it for emphasis while the crowd cheered.
Epilogue: From The New Yorker Magazine, (Re: Alice in Wonderland) “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, “ Humpty Dumpty says to Alice. How can you make a word mean so many different things, Alice asks? “The question, Humpty Dumpty replies,, “is which is to be master, that’s all.” George Orwell said the same thing: “ Meaning at bottom is about power”. “Truth”, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said is, “the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.” A disagreeable thought but not an inappropriate one in 2017.
Later on, of course Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. Something to look forward to in 2018. Happy New Year.”
…………………………………………………………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson