If you are sitting in your office and a lion walks in, pounces upon your least-favorite supervisor and devours him whole, do you turn to your colleague and calmly say, “He lived a very good life.” For, in such a universe, expunging the negative has been already accomplished, and such statements as, “Oh, what a horrible thing to have happened!” is no longer allowable, and the law has forbidden such discourse of linguistic negativity. Is it possible?
Does conceptual thought depend upon individual language, vocabulary and grammar? Are there tribes and communities where there exists no language that elicits anything but the positive? What if there was no word for describing an idiot, or a mean, unpleasant person; would we break the new law and immediately recreate such words and refill our empty prescription such that expunging the negative, or any attempt thereof, becomes an activity of futility and exercise of frustration? Do conceptual constructs exist without words to describe them, or do words and language games impose upon us a reality that would not otherwise exist?
Thus, if a person does something “mean”, and is caught doing it, but we have no vocabulary to describe, confront, or otherwise accuse the person of the wrongdoing, would a shrill scream or a primordial groan be sufficient, or would we have to “invent” a word for the indescribable event? Or, would the counterintuitive alternative be the case: The event, not having a word to describe it, and thus there would exist no such conceptual construct, therefore means that it does not exist, and thus is not “wrong” because there is no vocabulary or language game to identify it.
Whatever one’s belief on the matter, expunging the negative requires, at a minimum, a deliberative intent to “remain positive”. That is often easier said than done, especially if you are a Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job. You can certainly attempt to expunge the negative, but the reality is that the underlying medical condition, the harassment at work and the adversarial, hostile atmosphere will continue to exist.
Taking a “real” step – like filing a Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset – is likely a more “realistic” approach, as opposed to relying upon expunging the negative and failing to see the emperor without his clothes.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire