I never knew it had a name, but the other day I saw on American television a commercial for a high speed internet. In order to persuade the viewers to purchase that product, the narrator pleaded “don’t listen to the naysayer.” This is how I first discovered that, in the US, naysaying is a familiar and toxic type of behavior which merits a warning
The naysayer, according to the dictionary, is a person who says something will not work or is not possible: a person who denies, refuses, or opposes something. From my experience, naysaying is a form of avoidance, the naysayer is not the brave Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike to save his country, but is the one to always find a reason why not to act.
We meet the naysayers in all walks of life. Within the family or among our friends they are the chronic joy killers who spoil enjoyable gatherings with their negativity. At work they are especially disruptive team members and could sabotage a meeting by explaining in great details why the ideas presented are never going to work.
I don’t mean to suggest that we have to agree about everything, quite the contrary, it is important to argue, and to listen to different points of view. Nowadays we know that yea-saying is as harmful as naysaying. Moreover, the latter should not be confused with healthy skepticism and constructive criticism, which are important and necessary qualities for improvement. But I believe that chronic nay-saying (like yea-saying) is often caused by fear and could lead to lethargy and ultimately to stagnation and paralysis.
In recent years our leaders have found plenty of reasons why not to act and as a result our society became lethargic and stagnated. Many Israelis lost hope and believe that nothing will ever change. This despair caused, for example, a decrease in voter turnout in the last election.
In 2011, for a short time, the Israeli social justice protests brought about hope and energy. Many believed that a change was possible. The motto of the protests, which addressed issues of social order and power structure in Israel, was “the people demand social justice!”
Sadly social justice was not achieved and in 2015 Israelis are more disillusioned than they had been before the protests.
But new hope comes from unexpected directions, and the activities of groups like Women Wage Peace, for example, bring about new surge of energy. From the first train ride from Tel Aviv to Sderot, back in November, the members of that group have continually been on the move all over Israel to promote its cause. Although the focus of the group is political, rather than economic or social, the rationale is that peace will bring about positive change in the living conditions of the two peoples, the Israeli and the Palestinians, and naturally it would translate to social and economic justice.
Keeping up the energy is a must, and in order to gain any meaningful achievements on election day, on March 17th, and thereafter, we constantly need to focus on all the reasons why we must act now. We have no more time to waste, so please “don’t listen to the naysayer,” bring about change.