An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

By John Pierce

Naysayers seem to be evenly distributed. You can find at least one in about every organization (especially churches) and community. They like to speak first and often — as well as work behind the scenes.

Their modus operandi is: “I’m against it — now what did you say?”

Of course, it is easier to quickly condemn a new idea than to work toward strengthening it or helping shape it into a more constructive alternative. The classic example is one I watched unfold many years through the Atlanta newspaper.

Not surprisingly, there were some negative reactions when discussions began about replacing the aging Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium with a new baseball park. The final result was the building of Turner Field (which first served as a larger venue for the 1996 Olympics) just south of the old round ’60s stadium that first brought major league baseball to the Southeast.

But a local activist panned the plans harshly by suggesting that the new stadium would bring ruin to the Summerhill community. He charged that local residents would suffer greatly from, well, everything: traffic, parking, construction and so on.

“Not in our neighborhood!” he cried.

A short time later the newspaper carried another report that then-Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner was being shown a site in suburban Gwinnett County where the new stadium could be built with plenty of parking and minimal disruption.

The naysayer who had expressed strong opposition to the building of the new stadium near the old one fired off another letter to the editor. How dare they think of building the new ballpark in suburbia?

He told how such a move would take jobs and revenue out of the downtown community. Then he offered this classic, illogical line: “The only thing worse than building the new stadium here would be to not build it here.”

Damned if you do. Damned it you don’t.

From local community concerns to national politics, we accomplish little when commitments to a narrow ideology or an eagerness to oppose everything before giving it a fair consideration rule the day.

Critical analysis is always needed. Rubber-stamping bad ideas is not the right alternative. But hearing, “No, we can’t do that” — before the “that” is fully explored — rarely serves a good cause.

Sometimes we need to save our most resounding “no’s” for the constant naysayers.

 

 

 

 

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