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Ever meet someone you didn’t like? Then, later on, you changed your mind? Words, like people are misunderstood. Especially at first.

People, like words, need to be studied. Often, after you’ve learned about them – defined them – your perception changes, right? Sometimes we need to do that with words. We need to battle past our flawed first impressions.

A lot of words (most words?) have connotations. For most sane people, words like love, dessert, vacation and innovation have positive, connotations. Words such as sour, slimy, devastation and destruction have negative ones.

Yet some words, four in particular, incite an unwarranted, knee-jerk negative connotation. However, their bad rep is undeserved. They need an agent, a lawyer or a PR firm. Maybe all three. Maybe me.

1. Taxes. Yuck. Who likes taxes? “Taxes” even sounds nasty. Like you’re throwing up. Taxes take our money. My first paycheck (I was a movie theater usher) was supposed to be $80 bucks, but I took less than $60. What the heck? When I buy stuff it costs more than what the price tag says. What’s that all about? My mortgage sucks up half my paycheck, then I have to pay property taxes on top of it. That’s crazy! On the other hand, I like nice things. Nice things that, yes, the government (another negative word?) pays for: Smooth roads, schools with above adequate facilities, a non-corrupt police force, the Golden Gate Bridge… I’m not an idiot. I know we get what we pay for. “Nice” costs.

2. Regulations. Red tape. Bureaucracy. Government intrusion. Expensive job killers. All those, right? Yet, without them, what do we have? Haiti. Somalia. Crumbling buildings. Faulty pipelines. Poisoned Food. Dangerous pharmaceuticals. Fraudulent financials. Negligent health care… In a perfect world, a world where all humans were good, moral and trustworthy, we wouldn’t need regulations. But, well…

3. Work. We love to play. So, since work is the opposite of play, we must hate to work. Logical? Yes. But wrong. Work, because of the immense gratification it brings, particularly when it’s done well, is surprisingly satisfying, even pleasurable. Can we please drill this into kids’ (and certain adults’) brains? Work is good!

4. Stalking. Kids act as if they’re all creeped out by “stalkers” – kids who furtively learn about other kids by studying Facebook profiles or by memorizing their crush’s class schedule (so they can “accidently” run into him or her). But they’re lying about being appalled. They’re secretly flattered when they’re stalked. Besides, they do it to.

They shouldn’t be ashamed. “Stalking” is just a negative tag for finding out about someone. Knowing others’ interests and tastes is a huge plus. And someday, when, they’re preparing for job interview, they darn well better stalk the person(s) who started the company and, when possible, is conducting the interview.

Sure, we can be overtaxed. Too much regulation is an unnecessary pain in the butt. Sometimes work is a pointless waste of time. And, yes, there are creepy stalkers out there. What I’m lobbying for here is balance. Sincere scrutiny of both sides. Something we need but aren’t getting.

The trouble is, balanced thinking requires intelligence, open-mindedness and effort, three scarce resources in today’s America.

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