The word “weaponize” has been appearing frequently in our public discourse in recent years. John Kelly, in a 2016 Slate piece on the topic, had this to say:
But it’s outside of military contexts that weaponize has really proliferated in the last decade. We’ve weaponized: women, architecture, black suffering, anthropology, the facts, texting, femininity, marketing, secularism, religion, ideology, traditional forms of dress, virtue, sadness, social constructions, iWatches, and fictional experiences in video games. The word, of course, has enjoyed glibber applications: Writers have weaponized everything from flatulence to kale salads. This website appears, to some, to weaponize the narcissism of small differences.
The 2016 presidential election has been a hotbed for weaponization. . . . This weaponization has transformed just about every political act “into a powerful means of gaining advantage,” as Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark argue in their election glossary, Doubletalk.
In essence, it’s about using words, communications, and artistic expressions as weapons to hurt others. “Weaponize” thus becomes an easy way of describing the act and its underlying intention.
Given the work I’ve been doing concerning workplace bullying, mobbing, and harassment, I’m well aware of how words can wound. We can weaponize annual reviews, e-mails, and meetings. We don’t need missile launchers to do incredible damage to others.
Well folks, put me down as someone who yearns for a more peaceful, humane opposite of weaponize to enter our conversations with greater frequency. However, an internet search did not yield an appropriate antonym.
Okay, so here’s my suggestion: Dignitize. It’s not a perfect opposite, but it’s close enough.
Thus, instead of weaponizing our everyday interactions at work and elsewhere, let’s dignitize them. How does that sound?