Starting from a vulnerable place, I am deeply flawed, but seeking a higher state of consciousness, even perfection in the Greek sense of that word, which is wholeness or completeness. Aah, there it is, that pervasive BUT. Why do I insist on using but as my go-to connector of compound sentences? Our language reveals much about our state of consciousness and connection with the eternal.
“But”, “however”, “nevertheless” or its many other derivatives are not always, but often the products of an argumentative mind-set that seeks to justify one’s own point of view. It comes from a place in adult development that seeks solutions through logic where we defend our position adamantly while sometimes grudgingly acknowledging but rejecting an alternative perspective. We are the “expert” on our opinions as only we can and should be. This is right. It’s a pretty solid place to be. It is a necessary place to be at certain times and stages of our development.
When I examine my own speech and writing, I notice it is full of argumentative buts that seek to resolve binary questions through logic. The deepest questions of meaning in life are not binary, to be solved with either/or propositions. Life is deeper, more complex and more nuanced than that.
In my thirteen year journey to develop deep community with the Village on Sewanee Creek, I have been forced to face many areas of incompleteness in my own life. And, consequently, I have grown. Slowly, often in imperceptible increments. Today is one of those aha moments that I will probably struggle with for some time. The word “but” has served me well, at a lower state of consciousness. And . . . I can do better. BUT will remain useful in my thought toolbox. And, I will seek to increase my frequency of use of the word AND.
Why? AND is an inclusive word. It recognizes that many differing, valid and true perspectives can co-exist without conflict. I can strongly hold to my beliefs that are based on my experiences and interpretations of those experiences. And, by recognizing, with a bit more humility, that my views do not encompass the entire universe of possible truths, I can welcome additional truth that adds to the richness of my understanding and relationships. AND invites me to conceive of possible solutions that defy resolution in a binary world. AND is the little word that signals advancement from the “expert” level of consciousness to “strategist” in the newly emerging discipline of adult development.
When I do that, I am blessed in so many ways. I am less contentious, less annoyed by others, more at peace and, most importantly, my heart becomes softer and more capable of unconditional love.
Recently, a friend shared an interesting quote that goes something like,
“If you are not a liberal by 20, you have no heart.
If, by 30, you are not a conservative, you have no brain.”
I interpret this in the context of the evolving stages of human development where each successive stage of development does not erase or replace earlier stages. It simply builds on earlier foundations, adding new dimensions and perspectives. A perfection in wholeness requires both the heart and the mind working together in harmony. So, the appropriate word tying those two sentences into one is most definitely AND, not but.
The perfect example of this openness to other perspectives is best informed by the life of Jesus Christ. His perfection of love is enabled by His ability to accept and deeply understand every perspective with respect, kindness and the grace of forgiveness. This is the perfection I hope sometime in eternity to achieve. Wouldn’t the world be heaven if we all saw each other through the inclusive lens of the word AND?