How often do you see situations as “either/or”? They are good or bad, right or wrong and politically correct or not.
This sort of thinking is extremely popular in our war economy culture, as it divides people and sets us up in competition with each other. It also keeps us from developing the kind of imaginative solutions that are needed to meet the moment we’re in.
There’s an alternative to either/or thinking: “both/and”. In the world of both/and, we start to open up the possibility that we don’t have to choose. This mindset asks questions like: how can we take care of our personal needs AND the needs of our whole community? How can we acknowledge differences AND still get along?
The words we use every day play a huge role in shaping our reality. Some words are filled with possibility - words like “and,” “also,” “what if” and “yes” - and words that are filled with restraint and limitations, like “but,” “can’t,” “doesn’t,” “no” and “however”. Cultivating an ability to use words that can create, not destroy, while still being honest, straightforward and to-the-point will greatly help us on our way to growing a peaceful world.
Today, notice when words of separation show up in your vocabulary. Practice substituting “yes, but” with “yes, and”. “I am right, and you are wrong” with listening to what they are saying and finding points of connection and difference and finding a way to include it all.
For example, instead of saying “What you’re saying makes sense, but there are some pieces I would add for consideration,” try, “What you’re saying makes sense, and there are some pieces I would add for consideration.
Does your connection with others open up when you try this? How does it make you feel?