A bucolic scene:
It’s eight in the morning on a warm July day. The sun has risen high enough in the sky to produce a dappled effect on the forest floor. Insects buzz and crickets chirp, providing an almost orchestral background, and somewhere near by, honeybees in a hollow stump add a distinctive layer to the sound.
A stream runs through the woods, not headlong like a stampeding herd, but steadily and purposefully, fingers of water testing the staying power of stones and caressing the banks on both sides in a proprietary way.
On the west bank of the stream, a young boy sits patiently, bamboo pole in hand, his hooked worm struggling downstream with the current, almost out of sight. Unexpectedly, across the way, a young girl emerges from the woods, plops down on a grassy part of her bank, and sets up her fishing line. She raises her eyes and sees the boy. They stare at each other for a moment across the water, then shyly wave at each other in acknowledgement.
Now let’s shatter the peace. This is where the words rival
come from: two people living or situated on opposite banks of a stream, competing for the same resources. The Latin word rivus
is encapsulated here: a stream.
And so we have business rivalries, where the long knives are out and industrial espionage is a possibility. We have military rivalries where bullets rip through flesh and bombs obliterate entire villages. We have political rivalries where reputations are besmirched and dirty tricks prevail.
I’m telling you, it’s a can of worms.