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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lessons from Etymology

Character is reflected in the words we use.  This is obvious.  More can be made of it than need be there, but this too is obvious.  Indeed, what is not obvious?  If we shunned speaking the obvious, we'd say hardly anything at all.  Obviously.  "Obvious", from the Latin ob, 'against,' and viam, accusative of via, 'road'.  Something that's right in front of you, almost an obstacle -- or a guide post ... let's not be negative.

So, if we, 'we,' are "deplorable," what are they?  Their, her, but their, choice of invective is a mirror not a camera -- disregarding the selfieism of our, your current culture, where cameras are so often about the beholder.  What then do they say about themselves when they call us 'deplorable'?  Latin: de, and plorare, 'to weep, bewail, lament, cry'.  I do not think that they will mourn for us.  So the weeping must be of the more infantile sort.  Cry baby.

How very, very apt.

And I was thinking, what then are they?  What single word describes them? -- character, conduct ... understanding what that word-choice will say about me.  'Contempt' is so emotional.  'Disrespect' is on the nose.  I feel deep disrespect for them -- not the absence of respect, but the active presence of the opposite of respect.  So disrespect isn't quiet the word after all, being somewhat tautological. And the opposite of respect is, yes, 'contempt'.  Latin: com (intensifier), and temnere,  'to despise, scorn.'  'Scorn', proto-Germanic: skarnjan, 'to mock, ridicule'.  'Despise', Latin: de, 'down,' and specere, 'to look at' -- so, to look down upon, as in judgment -- as an adult observing an ill-mannered child, or an utterly undignified adult.

Yes, I think that says it well.  It reveals me as I wish to be seen, a charming selfie, in this specific instance, of observing and categorizing a subspecies of organism and its concomitant behaviors.  No, not Millennials -- not only ... that was just a little joke of mine.  I haven't seen a breakdown of the stats, but it would be impossible for me to believe that the loathsome Baby Boomers all of a sudden grew a brain. Etc.

Liberals have a different brain-structure.  That overstates the case, but there are identifiable differences, useful as statistical predictors.  We need not be slaves to our genetics or circumstances, so here is found no true explanation.   More likely is the obvious fact that maturity takes time.  Wisdom ripens, as decadence rots.

I choose to view the next four years as an opportunity for children of all ages to grow up, to become wise to the level of their years, if not beyond.  The past eight years have not taught me optimism.  But I am hopeful, again.

'Hope', Old English: a word of unknown origin.


J

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