Word Nerd Wednesday: Against the Currents

Happy Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s word is especially pertinent to the world today. And it starts with a situation in Lena’s workplace.

Lena’s new manager seems like a smart guy but he’s misinformed on a few details. In a meeting, he declares information Lena knows for a fact to be false, crediting one employee with a brilliant new idea when it was actually the work of one of Lena’s team members. Unwilling to let the misinformation stand, Lena speaks up to set the record straight, giving credit to the correct coworker and going against what her new manager is saying.

“Against the say” = gainsay (gain-SAY), meaning to contradict, oppose, or deny. In our story, Lena gainsays her manager regarding the true originator of the new idea. In essence, she speaks truth to power. It’s not an easy thing, speaking up against one person, much less an entire group. It requires an unequivocal certainty of what is true and the determination that speaking up is absolutely necessary. Sometimes such actions come at a significant personal cost.

So is it worth it, to gainsay those spreading misinformation? Lena’s coworker certainly appreciates it. Those who earnestly seek truth instead of bandwagons will always appreciate the gainsayers, those who go against strong currents to illuminate other perspectives. It doesn’t mean those who speak up to contradict information are always right. But the only way a society can grow and evolve is to allow those with opposing viewpoints to be heard.

It’s why free speech is so vital. History has shown us that silencing those who disagree is a first step toward a disturbing future. It’s important that anyone, even you, has the ability to gainsay authority. Use your power wisely.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Cool, Calm, and Collected

Welcome back to Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s word story is about a delightful older gentleman named Mr. Rutherford.

Mr. Rutherford is a kind soul, polite and respectful. From his clothes to his demeanor, he is a full-fledged gentleman. He’s enjoying his retirement, spending his time reading and visiting nearby attractions that he didn’t have time to see before. Today he’s visiting a local art museum, appreciating a range of works from masters and emerging talent.

Suddenly, there’s a commotion in a corner of the museum. A younger man is moving quickly through the space. He sees Mr. Rutherford and a woman nearby.

“Go, lady! Exit, gent! Now!” he urges, just before pulling the fire alarm to evacuate the building. It turns out there’s a gas leak in the museum. (Don’t worry, emergency services arrive quickly, and no people or works of art are harmed.)

“Exit, gent!” = exigent (ECK-sih-gent), meaning urgent or needing immediate attention. Exigent circumstances are ones that require quick thinking and decisive action, like what the younger man in the museum demonstrated. These situations can be remarkably revealing, showing you who can handle a crisis.

Having been in a few emergency situations, I can tell you, you never know exactly who will keep their cool. It may surprise you who steps up when there’s a need, who thinks and reacts quickly, shouldering the burden of helping other people. Maybe that person is you. Maybe it’s someone you know.

Exigent situations are like a flashbulb moment. When that bright light goes off, it blinds some people and spurs others into action. I think we can all be grateful for the people who are equipped to handle exigent situations. This world will always need them.