Nothing. Nada. Zilch. The null category gets no respect. The hollowness of it is repulsive. The emptiness of it is unbearable. Even nature is said to abhor a vacuum. The poor man who has nothing to say is a pariah. He is like the investment adviser with nothing to recommend, save cash. He will get no work as a hedge fund manager; he will not drive a fancy car, nor live in a beach palace in the Hamptons.
And zero? For centuries the number couldn't even be found. Mathematicians didn't know what to make of a number that was not a number at all but an absence of numbers, a graphic display of nothing, a round, empty hole.
Few things are as damnable as inaction. In politics, it is cause for recrimination. In marriage, even the Catholics allow for annulment in cases of nonconsummation. In finance, it is cause for regrets. In war, it is cause for firing squads. In conversation, an absence of words is embarrassing. When a man stares you in the face and says nothing, you assume he is thinking something dreadful. Unless he smiles; then you think he has lost his mind.
The other problem with inaction is that there is never any excuse for it. Stalin's generals, charged with inaction during the early days of the German assault on Moscow, might have explained that they were busy with their mistresses or attending a child's birthday party. Either excuse would be perfectly satisfactory to a civilized man, for both were better than killing people in order to defend the Soviet Union. ...