#435 – Dick Bernard: But/And

Directly related posts here; here; and here.
Tuesday night I was invited to a closing event of a well known program of Landmark Education, a world wide and well known personal improvement program.
I’m well acquainted with Landmark Education, having taken much of their curriculum 13 years ago. The event was an evening very well spent.
We were given a very simple exercise: to identify (my interpretation of the exercise) some decision making quandary of two options, separated by the word BUT.
A personal example of mine might be:
I’d like to lose a few pounds, BUT I like pie and ice cream (amongst a large array of such temptations)

There are endless variations on this quandary.
Then, the instructor asked us to replace the BUT with AND, so my statement would now become:
I’d like to lose a few pounds, AND I like pie and ice cream….

(I had my annual physical yesterday and the dreaded scale at the beginning of the process shows which of these has won. I wasn’t surprised.)
There followed an interesting discussion of the distinction (again, my interpretation) between these two statements.
When we use the BUT word in such matters, we are, in effect, making a decision: one option over the other. The word decision is in itself an interesting word. It shares a root with words like suicide, homicide, insecticide and on and on and on. When you decide something, you elect one fork in the road, and kill off the other.
Often a decision is made in anger, with frequent unpleasant results. Prisons are full of people who made decisions out of anger and killed somebody. (Whole societies can make decisions which ultimately cause their death, too. That includes our own American society, at this point in our history.)
The AND word connotes a right to choose, and in fact to change one’s mind. With choice, you’re not killing off other options.

Both BUT and AND have their merits and their problems; BUT, however, tends to be terminal. Deciding ones route tends to burn the bridge to the other route.

Before the exercise, the person who invited me and I were discussing some of the happenings in our respective lives. She happened to mention a meditation group that she had chosen to join, with some reservations, but had come to find very fulfilling for her.
In the course of the conversation, she mentioned a friend who had a weight problem, who was in the meditation group. In some manner, at some point, her friend chose to focus on a single meal each day, rather than look on the transformation as a 24 hour a day seven days a week task.
She took on her choice and over a period of time lost 35 pounds.
Apparently a very good choice.
I’m like everyone else, with plenty of BUTs impeding me in my life.
Time to replace a few of them, at least, with ANDs.
Maybe looking at that “pie and ice cream” as “sugar and fat” (which is what they are) will make a difference (I was going to say “can make a difference”, but that’s a cop out.)
As individuals, and as a society, we can make good choices or awful decisions.
We will choose what decision to make.