The word “Eve” only gets used these days for a small few important dates in the calendar. Christmas Eve., New Year’s Eve, for example. By definition it is the day immediately prior to an event or occasion.
The funny thing is, it completely demeans the day itself, giving it no significance other than that it immediately precedes the next day.
How awful is that? Can you imagine going through life as only being relevant because of your immediate connection to something or someone else. “oh, that’s Johnny’s wife, that’s Paddy’s son” … giving no acknowledgement of the person’s own name or identity.
Because it is a forward looking aspect, no one seems to mind. We look forward to Christmas Day itself, or to New Year’s Day. These are the holidays that the eve is pointing at, so everyone dismisses how irrelevant we have just made this one particular day become.
What on earth is he on about now, I hear you ask.
Well before i get into it, I put some pics from a light painting experiment this NYE morning at the end of this blog. Hope you enjoy!
Anyway, back to my point … Without giving it much thought, it seems like a really trivial topic. But you see, it isn’t.
For centuries, people have been using words to demean and dismiss certain things or people and the most effective use of these words are when they appear benign.
Let’s start with Eve, for example. When the newly formed christian movement wanted to christianize Ireland, one of their biggest challenges was to try to get the locals to stop following pagan practices. And after they burnt all the pagan books and teachings that had been compiled for over a thousand years, they then set about tackling pagan feasts.
So, for example, the feast of Samhain (pronounce it “sowen”) occurred on the last day of October, when the pagans dutifully gave thanks to the gods for their harvest. The christians gave this same day a new name “All Hallows Eve” trying to make it a precurser to their important All Saints Day of November 1st.
Comically, All Hallows Eve morphed over time to what we now call Halloween and so the celebrations stays rooted to the original day that they were trying to demean.
But there are many other words that are commonly used today that very much affect our views on people or institutions with an intent to demean or dismiss them.
Some are very blatant, like “Terrorist”. It is a hateful word designed to provoke a fear-based and hateful response to a person or persons. Don’t think for a moment that the USA invented this word to describe islamic dissidents. A hundred years ago, that is how the british described the Irish freedom fighters.
It is a simple and effective way to delegitimize your opposition.
But there are words we hear on the media every day that go unquestioned, yet provoke the same response in our brains. For example Iran has a “regime” while we have a “government”. Palestinian fighters are an “armed militia” while Israel has an “army”.
Beyond governments doing this kind of shit, people do it also. And sometimes they select words that elevate themselves rather than demean the opposition. But it has the same end result. It creates a fake disparity. For example, people who were anti-abortion years ago, suddenly became pro-life as an attempt to claim the high ground. Yet they are quite possibly also strong gun-rights and death penalty folk. Not exactly how I would describe the term “pro life”.
Colloquially we use words such as “foreigners” or “immigrants” to delegitimize viewpoints or standings when in real terms we are all people.
Then we use adjectives to further demean such as “flaming” liberals, or “illegal” immigrants. No person should ever be “illegal”. An act can be illegal, but a person cannot.
Anyway, I guess where I was trying to get to with this little blog was just to alert you to words and their importance. Watch out when people and governments use words to demean. Understand their intentions and beware of their motives.
They are very much akin to the bully at school (or recent white house) that had a demeaning nickname for everyone. The intention is rarely to elevate and almost always to belittle. Invariably people that do that to others are feeble minded and devoid of a legitimate argument of their own.
Our job when we witness it is to disregard demeaning words used against any people and return these people to the same level as ourselves. At the end of the day, no person anywhere is better or worse than another. We are all people. Plain and simple.
… just a thought.