No: The Word The World Needs

There’s a word which could change the world as we know it. There are probably several, but oh how we need this one.


A young boy is on the playground with his buddies, who are making fun of him about a sore subject. Typically he wouldn’t care and give it right back, but this one thing he doesn’t like to joke about. He tells them to stop in his own words; they move on to something else. No problem. He continues feeling safe with his friends because at any time he can say no and have faith it will be respected.

A woman is having a good time getting to know a man— right until he started to seem bent on more, emotionally or physically, than she is ready for. She tells him to slow down or that she’s not comfortable. There may have come a day she was ready; perhaps there still could be if he stopped, respecting her boundary. No whining, no anger, no pushing, just stopping. No longer an issue. Maybe he has to take a moment to switch gears, but then the night returns to having fun. She probably adds that to the list of things she likes about him: he respects her boundaries.

I admit I don’t particularly like hearing no. I’m not good at saying it either. I dream of a day I and we master both.

Imagine if all women had to do was say no and men respected it.

Imagine if children were taught to stop whatever it is they’re doing when a person says no, even siblings, even when they are “just playing” with them.

What if we all felt okay with establishing our boundaries, because we knew they would be respected?

What if we didn’t get offended anytime sometime tells us no?

It’s a pipe dream really, but what if just the majority of us respected each other’s no? It seems more like the other way around.

Lots of us are uncomfortable establishing boundaries; I believe it’s largely because so many humans have little respect for them.

Likewise it can seem offensive when another tells us no in some shape or form. Maybe it’s because we don’t understand why he/she would put up a boundary there?

I’m not sure how this gets fixed really, though I’m fairly certain it’s up to those of us who dream of it. I think it comes down to a few simple things:

  • Teaching children to say no
  • Teaching children to respect other people’s no
  • Crafting our voices to establish boundaries
  • Listening well for the boundaries of those we know and love

Here’s to the no, and to all to love and respect it 🥂

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