Friday, January 8, 2021

Check Your Buts

I have spent a great deal of time writing over the past nine or so months.  I have become more aware of writing patterns I indulge in - both the good and the bad.  One habit I think I will wean myself from is use of the word "but."  

No, no.  It has nothing to do with how easy it is to add another "t" on the end so we can all giggle about a stupid anatomy joke.  No, it's not because it isn't a useful word.  After all, I tend to use in my writing to illustrate how I often see more than one side to things.  (note, I use "after all" too much.... ugh!)

I am beginning to get even more offended with "but" because so many people are using it in this fashion:

"I know X is wrong, but....."

We should all just stop at "X is wrong."  Or, if you want, you can explain why you think "X is wrong."  When you add "but" you are implying that YOU are able to justify an exception for yourself or someone with whom you feel you have an alliance.

Once the "but" enters the sentence that should set off alarm bells in all of our heads that we should really carefully inspect our motivations and our sense of right and wrong.  Is it possible that a perfectly valid exception exists?  Sure.  However, you might want to reconsider your condemnation of others who ALSO seem to have found an exception to the rule.  It's pretty difficult to claim moral high ground when you're neck-deep in the quicksand yourself.

Then again - maybe that's all the better any of us can do?  That's a sobering and depressing thought.

The other place I am hearing lots of buts?  It's the same form, but with a slight twist:

"When X did this, it was wrong, but what about when Y did this?"

Again.  Stop at "When X did this, it was wrong."  If it was wrong, it was wrong.  You do no favors if you legitimize any bad behavior by trying to put the focus anywhere other than the bad behavior you feel you need to be calling out.

What are we?  Five year olds?  

"Don't blame me Mom!  He/she did it FIRST!"

And therefore, it's not as bad?  Address your problem first because you should have more control over that.   Or perhaps you actually do believe you own the exception to the rule.   It's bad unless one of you or yours does it? 

Why am I so upset?

It's simple.  I know, like and care for people who have vastly different ideas about what is important in the world.  And, I am witnessing more and more of them forgetting to check their 'buts.'  Maybe some of your read this?  Perhaps this will let you know that I care about you, but I am disappointed and unhappy?  

Do I expect too much of others?  I don't think so.  I actually hold you in more esteem than you know - which is why I say something.

Do I expect too much of myself - probably.  I've been trying to check my buts for several months now and I still fall down.  I struggle with this just like everyone else.  That is exactly the point - I am struggling because I want to be better.  Come struggle with me.

Hey - you folks who believe in personal responsibility - spend more time cleaning your own house and set a better example.  Hey - those of you who believe that we need to be more inclusive and sympathetic to all sorts of people - time to offer more grace to those you may not agree with and may not like.

And while you're at it.  Check your "buts" at the door.


  1. Good reminder to look in the mirror to check our buts.

    1. Sometimes they look pretty big.... ;)


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