Monday, July 2, 2012

'BUT ...'

'But' is nothing more than a 3-letter word in the English language, right? Wrong! True, it is indeed a 3-letter word, but it can take on a life of its own. It can have so much power for 3 simple letters. The word 'but' usually leads you into something else ... whenever a thought or sentence has more to say there's usally a 'but'. Like when you're 8 years old and trying to defend your actions to your parents 'BUT I didn't know we'd get burned if we touched the car lighter with our fingertip.' When you hear 5th graders talking behind someone's back on the playground and their response is justified with 'BUT I didn't think Joey could hear me.' Clearly, the actions were wrong, yet somehow someone thought they were justifiable because they added a 'BUT'.

Not too long ago I found myself in the midst of a very awkward conversation. What do you do when you're spending time with someone (and you're committed to hanging around for a while) and you suddenly find yourself feeling very anxious, getting very quiet and taking a step back to hear what is really being said? In the course of less than 10 minutes I felt as if this person justified their selfishness and lack of morals by using the word 'BUT' more times than I could even count. For example, 'I'm not poking fun at so-n-so, BUT did you see what they were wearing?' 'I'm not biased and don't really care what other people do, BUT I can't imagine ever doing anything that terrible.' 'I'm not saying that they're not smart, BUT I can't imagine that they'll get that job.'

Since when does a person become so smart and so superior that they can tear others down whenever they choose, simply by adding a disclaimer? I think it'd be wiser if people broke their sentences down in their heads first before they opened their mouths. The word 'BUT' is similar to the word 'AND' in that sense. Break the sentence down and see if the first part (before you add the 'BUT') or the second part can stand on their own. Can they? And do either parts convey the message that you really wanted to express when they stand alone?

There is a certain scripture (and I believe a commandment) that says 'love your neighbor as yourself'. It talks about treating others the way that you would want to be treated. Would your child (or you for that fact) feel hurt or betrayed if you walked in and heard people talking about you (unfavorably) behind your back? Would you just blow it off when they said, 'Oops, but I didn't know you were there'? Would that somehow make their lack of judgement acceptable? I know it wouldn't for me.

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