Happy Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s story is about a battle, the kind of battle you might know very well.
Marissa is a hard-working, intelligent woman. She’s confident, and she knows who she is. These traits have attracted the negative attention of a man named Calvin. He regularly makes disparaging, belittling comments about her. Always wanting to take the high road, Marissa tries to ignore him, telling herself his comments are just childish taunts. But then, Calvin starts making negative reports about her to their boss.
“This has become war,” Marissa tells herself. She finally realizes that it’s time to step into battle. She will not let anyone diminish her. So she carefully creates a plan and takes aim, as she finally fights back against her enemy Cal.
“Enemy Cal” = inimical (in-IM-ih-coll), meaning hostile or having the disposition of an enemy. It isn’t until Marissa acknowledges Cal’s actions are having a significant negative influence that she realizes it’s time to fight back.
Sometimes ignoring someone is the right choice. But other times, when the other person’s actions become inimical and begin to have a significant, negative impact on your life, it’s time to step up and defend yourself before it’s too late. That’s the power of words, to label someone’s actions in such a way that you are able to see clearly and feel compelled to act. For Clarissa, labeling Cal her enemy gave her the clarity she needed to see it was time to act.
It’s admirable to take the high road, to turn the other cheek. But it’s also important to be able to see when someone is acting in a way that is hostile to you and your future. You and your life are worth defending. Even against an enemy named Cal.
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.