Sunday, September 19, 2021
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Can Nothing Be Better Than Something?

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We can't afford to stop but we can only get better...

Have you ever had the experience of answering a question even though you didn’t know the answer? I have, and you probably have too. For me, in such moments, I was able to guess the answer due to how the question was worded or framed. Well, a question happens to be the title of this article.

If I put that question to you with the possible answers being YES or NO, I am very sure you would get it right (in the context of what I regard as the correct answer), especially after how I started this write-up.

What is your answer? YES? Or NO? Are you sure? Join me on a journey of words, and maybe along the way or at the end of the trip, you will be able to assess your answer concerning what I am trying to convey.

context word

Before we delve any deeper, I want to talk about context. This is how I perceive context. I see context as a container for the text. The container stands for restricted space. Therefore, context is a limited space to write the text. Without context, you run into the problem of lack of restriction, which makes it problematic to properly talk about certain subjects.

I implore you to judge what I am communicating in the context. Alright! I am going to talk about something and nothing (sighs). My subject matter is encapsulated in a saying. It goes like this; half a loaf is better than none. Could it then be possible for nothing to be better than something?

Proverbially, let’s take a look at this half a loaf being better than none. Using the metric of the outcome from choosing half a loaf or none as a determiner of better, let’s assess the situation. Let’s say you were hungry, and you found a loaf to satisfy your hunger, and the outcome was that your hunger was satiated, then indeed, the loaf was better than none.

On the other hand, if the result had been that after taking the loaf, the person ended up hospitalized because the bread was poisoned, then nothing would have been better than something.

Mathematically, based on what I am trying to get across, nothing is zero (0), and something is any other number other than zero in the context of integers. Also, better here is measured based on size. From the above parameters set, we can see that indeed, something (1,2,3…) is better/greater than nothing(0).

Hence, something is better/greater than nothing. Alternatively, something(-1,-2,-3…) are not better/greater than nothing(0). Therefore, we can conclude that sometimes, nothing is better than something and vice versa.

lonely boy

Let’s try a real-life example. Here again, the determiner of better is the outcome of the choice. Ali is an unemployed graduate who happens to be broke. He eventually gets a job, and the salary he earns improves his financial situation. Half a loaf is better than none.

Now, what conclusion will you draw if Ali found himself a job (an illegal business) and since half a loaf was better than his broke situation, he stayed in the job and eventually got busted and jailed for 10 years in addition to a fine that depleted all the money he had acquired on the job and resulted in debts?

am about to sign off, but before I do that, let me say all that I have been trying to say in a few words (hopefully). It is a kind of default setting to think that something is always better than nothing.

But as I have illustrated, sometimes, nothing is better than something. And I think we should consider the loaf before automatically assuming it is better than no loaf. In our choices and decision-making, let’s consider the possibility that nothing could be better than something.

I started with a question, and I feel like ending with a question. If what I have said is so, how then do we decipher in a given situation whether to choose nothing or something?

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