But


“Get your a** around behind you!”

  • Dick Heston (1933 – 2002), circa 1970-ish, trying to teach his 9-year-old son to use a shovel

Dad’s point, while it didn’t register with me for about eight more years, was that if I’d keep the shovel working around my body, it’d move more grain and I’d look less like a bag full of squirrels trying to fight over the last acorn of the season.

But that’s not my point.

My point is that we ought to put our “but’s” behind us. As in “leave them permanently in a closet, behind something heavy.”

If you’ll forgive me for going all English major on you, unless it’s used as an adverb (“There is but one God…”) it’s argumentative. You’re a great kid, but… I love you, but… That’s a fair offer, but…

Even if we argue that our intent isn’t to be contrarian, the word has come to erase whatever came before it in the sentence.

Arguments that contain “but” are only as productive, but way less funny than Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin on Saturday Night Live in “Point / Counterpoint.”

So, let’s put our but’s behind us. Permanently, perhaps.

“You’re a great kid, and I can sense how frustrated you are. Let’s try to figure that out together.”

“I love you, and I believe your intentions are good. I think there’s common ground for us if we’ll focus on it as a starting point.”

“That’s a fair offer, and I think I have an idea based on your offer that might work even better for both of us. Would you like to hear it?”

Yes, making the bt-to-and shift might be even more difficult than trying to learn how to use a shovel with your dad barking at you. AND, it’ll dang-sure be more rewarding.


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