Are ‘no’ and ‘yes’ equal and opposite?

Its sort of an odd thing to write about, but I ‘ll start anyway. A recent disagreement made me think are they just two words in the dictionary with completely opposite meanings or there’s more to it? Rather than beating around the bush I ‘ll start with an example. Lets say you are in a situation where a group of people need to agree to something. Does one no put a stop to the whole process, does it move on but with a limp or is it that it doesn’t matter at all! It seems to me it depends on what your standing is in the group.

We can look at this in many different ways. Since a decision would involve at least two different individuals, we should consider how by differing your choice you can change an outcome and more importantly how your difference in opinion with some one else affects the final decision. If you are someone of note, your no carries more weight and is often immobilizing to the process. Where as if you are someone of less consequence your no can merely be noted as a form of disagreement and just that, nothing more. Or it can be as ineffective as a mosquito bite if you are of no consequence.

A very good example to all these if-thens would be the UN. There are those with a permanent membership in the Security Council, they are the members of consequence I have been referring to. Then there are the other members, who for a period get to vote, and then comes the rest of the world who can’t do a thing even if they outnumber the members in the council. All they can do is pass a resolution in the general assembly which is not even binding!! (the mosquito bite) On the other hand the strength of the permanent members go to the length of actually being able to veto something.

So on the basis of what I speak of above it can be safely concluded:

  1. in the context of a veto, a no is definitely not equal to an yes
  2. coming from someone of less consequence, a no borders on the line of actually being part of the decision making process given the veto powers are “just”
  3. and for entities of no consequence, a no or an yes are, as is written in any of the great English dictionaries of our time, just two words, one the antonym of the other.

All of this is nothing but just a thought.

    • sandeepan
    • November 4th, 2007

    very true!! the”no” is almost always more powerful than the “yes”…..sometimes in a good way sometimes as you mentioned in a bad way… example of the good a “no”can do….people who said no to sorm form of authority or convention and brought about a revolution….people who said “yes”..didnt hav an equal and opposite effect…they had no effect at all..they contributed in no way to the change!

    • suvayu
    • November 4th, 2007

    You are very right. What you said got me thinking and I think this imbalance has a really important role to play, when the matter in concern is something irreversible. e.g. a girl saying no to sex can actually change a sexual act from being an act of love to an act of crime, even in the eyes of the law! Isn’t that quite something?

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