By Tim Beebe
Nov. 23, 2011 – Good news! Pizza is still a vegetable. It's odd that I hadn't known that it ever was a vegetable, but nice to learn that I can count it toward my daily veggie quota instead of beets and turnips. I should add that pizza is a vegetable as defined by the US Congress with regard to school lunches. Minor detail.
By Tim Beebe
Nov. 23, 2011 – Good news! Pizza is still a vegetable. It's odd that I hadn't known that it ever was
a vegetable, but nice to learn that I can count it toward my daily
veggie quota instead of beets and turnips. I should add that pizza is a
vegetable as defined by the US Congress with regard to school lunches. Minor detail.
It brings to mind a maxim my parents
used when we were kids: if you call a sheep's tail a leg, how many legs
does it have? I only fell for it once, and was swiftly informed
that sheep only have four legs, no matter what you call their tails.
Lastly, it brings to mind a book I just finished reading for the first time: George Orwell's
you've never read this famous classic, I don't blame you. I doubt that a
darker book has every graced the shelves of bookstores. A key theme was
that the Party owned truth. If the Party said it was true, then it was
true regardless of fact or history.
Here's the point. Words are powerful
if used skillfully . . . for good or evil, for truth or deception. I
doubt that anyone believes that pizza is a vegetable, but a handful of
frozen food lobbyists convinced a handful of Congress men and women, who
convinced the House of Representatives that it was, and legislation was
passed that will boost the frozen food industry. Millions of dollars
are made and lost daily by words, depending upon how they are used.
Words alone aren't enough, however.
Words are to language what flour is to baking. Flour is the
main ingredient of baked goods, but the sugar, spices, milk, and other
ingredients give the cake or bread or muffins (or pizzas) their
personality. Language is the same way.
Words are dry and dusty by themselves.
To make literary cake, or verbal muffins, or linguistic pizza, you have
to blend ideas together with emotions and feelings and passion. You
also have to know your audience's likes and dislikes. Lobbyists know
that US Representatives don't care as much about pizza as they do about
We need to learn from the pizza story.
Firefighters are plain speakers, which isn't bad, but politicians
haven't paid much attention to the unleavened bread we've offered them.
"We need decent equipment."
"Help us with recruitment."
"Why can you spend a billion dollars on a G8 summit, but can only afford to give us crumbs at election time?"
Perhaps we need to bake them a verbal black forest cake to get their attention.
As disappointed as I am that one of my
favourite foods is not a vegetable (legislation notwithstanding) I am
encouraged by one thing: if the US House of Representatives can be
persuaded that pizza grows on vines, we can persuade Parliament Hill
that firefighters are the very core of public service . . . and that
they need to care more about us.
Time to recruit more language chefs.