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I need a word. I need a word that means some constant, overall… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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[Jul. 5th, 2004|02:17 pm]
John
I need a word.

I need a word that means some constant, overall struggle that one must bend all of one's resources to winning. I need a word like "war", but with the built in idea that, if it comes down to fighting, to bloodshed, you've already fucked up.

I need a word that says "we can rest, from time to time, and we can intentionally lay the struggle aside, but we know in our hearts that we're just laying it aside for now, and that someday, we're going to have to pick it up again, and carry on."

I need a word for what it is that is going on with the human spirit, where the base level one can expect is struggle, and the recognition that the struggle will never end. I need a word for how despair must be held off with *active* methods, that acknowledges that a lack of caring will weaken us and a lack of work will defeat us.

I need a word that embraces this struggle, this effort, and this heroism that is so amazing in the human spirit, given how badly the odds are stacked against it.

I need a word, one better than "war", one that cries out with the same sense of duty and purpose, and the same desire for victory in the struggle, but without the notion that we must go and hurt, and kill people, and gladly accept unintended "collateral damage".

I need this word to express what it is that I think we must do, what I feel *I* must do, and I've been trying to think of this word.

And I had a hilariously funny thought. I mean, this would, at least, have the potential to be the greatest joke on US society, well, *ever*. And, I doubt that it's true, it would be too perfect, and things are never this perfect in real life, except when they are, if you understand what I mean. This would be like finding out that addictive drugs are only addictive when people are afraid of getting caught and arrested, so that the war on drugs was not only arguably making the social problem worse, but literally making the medical problem worse.

What if the best word to describe that struggle that's been coined yet is "jihad"?

See, "jihad" doesn't refer to "killing westerners", though many people think that's all it means. It refers to a holy struggle, and is frequently used to describe the struggle to control one's self, the struggle one has to do, in order to do what's right, when there is temptation to do wrong.

For truly black humor, imagine if this word has not only confused westerners, but has also been stolen by extremists, who might have bent a noble word to ignoble purposes?

Shrug. I don't have any knowledge of Islam, nor of middle eastern culture, and certainly not of the language of the Qu'ran. I am not suggesting that I have any knowledge of the meaning of the word. All I have in this situation is a profound sense of the ridiculous, and a sense of curiosity while I seek a word that I plan to use to build a larger structure.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: umbran
2004-07-05 09:58 pm (UTC)
Some concepts cannot be fully encasulated within a single word in any particular language. English doesn't have the word you seek. You can coin a new word for it, but you'd then have to define it with each use, as you're the only one who knows the definition.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-07-24 10:25 pm (UTC)
You're probably right, in the end... still, the notion of the word, the "war-substitute", is one that's going to stick with me.

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[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2004-07-05 10:39 pm (UTC)
I like the thought, but I tend to agree with Umbran that it may not be possible. But you might want to do a Google search on "tikkun olam."
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-07-24 10:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks; I've done so, and the first readings look neat. If nothing else, I think this will help round out what I'm trying to express.
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[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2004-07-24 11:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it helped. What you were expressing reminded me of that concept.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2004-07-05 10:49 pm (UTC)
If you find it, let me know. I think hope has something to do with it.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2004-07-06 05:33 am (UTC)
I think hope is the power behind what John is talking about - the motivator, if you will. But I'm at a loss for the word itself. The best I can come up with is "struggle," but that needs modifiers to say what I think he's trying to say.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2004-07-06 01:30 pm (UTC)
*nod* I agree. A hopeful struggle. I like Silicon Shaman's suggestion of quest...
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-07-24 10:29 pm (UTC)
In fact, I realized that it might well require some form of ... damn. Whatever it is. "article-izing", or "proper-nounification". "The Quest", or somesuch, with a reference to a body of work that explains what it is.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2004-07-25 12:53 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that such a term doesn't lend itself to negative words (to my ear) "The Terror Quest" as well as to positive words "The Peace Quest". I think there's something in there about approaching things that says something important.
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[User Picture]From: siliconshaman
2004-07-06 08:02 am (UTC)
I think the word you're looking for may be : Quest.
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2004-07-06 01:29 pm (UTC)
A look at the etymology of quest tells us that it comes from "seek and inquiry", which is good, I think.
I like this suggestion...modern connotations do make it rather close to John's description. :)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-07-24 10:29 pm (UTC)
That's certainly got some darn good potential... it would require that I somehow support it, to express a particular quest, but I think that's the right kind of idea.
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