January 3, 2006

And is a creative word.
The great AND.

This I was able to write last night before collapsing back into my hard-won sleep. It was after midnight before drowse overtook an abnormal state of agitation (source unknown) and I fell asleep, only to waken from a dream with these words on my mind. A heavy slump of snow falling from the roof was enough to propel me to pen and notebook long enough to write them, and though I knew at the time I would regret not elaborating, I also knew they would be enough.

And is a word of inclusion, whereas its cousin, or, is a word of exclusion. And is a word of compromise; or is a word of ultimatum. A string of ands in a sentence will have your mind gathering ideas like a bouquet of flowers, while a string of ors sets your mind to shopping—picking up one item then putting it down for the next.

I don’t want to carry this too far—dichotomies have their usefulness in context. For instance, if you ask me whether I prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream, I am likely to choose either one depending on my mood, but on those occasions when I can’t make up my mind and choose a “twist” of both I am usually disappointed that I cannot have the pure flavor of either. This, however, is the result of the kind of and referred to by the saying, “she wants to have her cake and eat it too.” Its source is greed/poverty consciousness.

The creative and has a different source. It allows and promotes diversity, which every biologist will tell you is a good thing. Think: “Heterosexual and homosexual and bisexual and transsexual are all okay.” “Your god is valid and my god is valid and no god is valid.” “Nuclear families and families of choice can both be healthy forms of lasting human relationship.”

It takes a certain amount of stretching to allow for other ways of being in the world, no doubt. Balance must be found, also, when it comes to a way of being or doing in the world that steps on or obliterates other ways of being or doing in the world. How far do we take tolerance? Are there times when intolerance is the answer? In response, say, to intolerance?