I’m an English teacher. My favorite pastimes are reading and writing. A beautiful set of words literally makes my heart beat faster. Language in all of its complexities and nuances and endless capability is basically my first love.
My favorite word is the word “And.”
In my entire education, all that time spent in the pages of Shakespeare and Fitzgerald and Morrison and Plath, I’ve never come across a more beautiful word. And.
We live in a very black and white world. We tend to see things as good OR bad, with no middle ground. It’s written into our language.
A person is either a good guy or a bad guy.
A choice is either right or wrong.
Except… Choices can be right and wrong at the same time. No person is entirely good or bad, we are mostly mixes of intention and mess with both good and bad. Enter that magical word: “And.”
I particularly like to replace the word “but.” The word “but” is a disqualifier. That means that it inherently negates whatever comes before it. For example, the words “I love you but I don’t agree with you.” That word “but” ranks the latter sentiment above the former. It says that the disagreement is more important than the love.
Try replacing the word “but” with the word “and” and you will begin to see the world in shades of grey.
I love you AND I don’t agree with you.
I’m a tough person AND I’m a gentle person.
I don’t like today AND the sun will rise tomorrow.
It rewires your thinking, it encourages you to see dialectically, which is to recognize the world is confusing and complicated and far more colorful than black and white.
Today especially, as the nation woke up to a president elect that was extremely divisive, I encourage you to use your words. Use “and.”
I am disappointed with the results and I believe that our nation will move forward.
I don’t like Donald Trump as a person and I respect that the nation has chosen him.
I am frustrated by my loved ones who support them and I still love them.