WHAT'S IN A WORD?
"All the people like us are We, and everyone else is 'They'."
In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God.
When we read this scripture, we generally note that the Word is another name for our Savior. I can't read this read this without seeing another layer of meaning. Which is: If all things were created spiritually before they were created physically — which they were — then all things were spoken of, before they were made manifest.
Knowing that words precede actions — and what we say reveals what we believe — in the "How to Implement", it is recommended we monitor for a few weeks our "us vs. them" and "so and so isn't Mormon, but..." statements.
In her book "Writing to Change the World", Mary Pipher asserts that [when we write] and "are in trouble with pronouns, most likely we haven't sorted out our relationships to readers and/or to our material. We are probably struggling with us/them issues, and questions about the applicability of the remarks to ourselves". If we are writing about tiger beetles, chemical reactions, or soil erosion, we fall easily into a comfortable point of view.
However, with humans as our subjects, pronouns are tangled into our deepest values. The choices are not merely a matter of craft but of worldview. Pronouns are about who is included and excluded, about who is in our circle of caring and who is "the other." At the most intense level, pronoun selection is a values clarification task. Pronoun choices concern who we stand with and who we stand against, and finally, who we choose to call "us."
Also interesting are the words of of Eric H.F. Law, an Episcopal priest, in his book "Inclusion: making room for grace." He notes that in the English language we have dozens of words to describe exclusion and exclude: omission, ostracism, segregation, apartheid, banishment, deportation, discrimination, elimination, exemption, expulsion... ban, bar, blackball, blacklist, boycott, excommunicate, expel, insulate, overlook, separate, shun, shut out...
Whereas when he looked for synonyms of inclusion, he found three words: insertion, addition, enclosure. And, on further examination, he noticed these words were meant to describe inclusion of objects not people. There were more synonyms for the verb include — comprise, consist of, contain, entail, cover, insert... But when he eliminated the words referring to objects, he was left with embody, embrace, incorporate and involve.
In short, our language, which is indicative of our cultural values, has a long list of expressions for inclusion, but very little support for inclusion.
There is a wonderful children's book titled Frindle by Andrew Clements in which the students make up the word "frindle": they so confidently insert the word into their everyday language, "frindle" eventually makes its way into the dictionary.
Perhaps we should follow Andrew Clements lead and make up new synonyms for inclusion.
In the beginning, and in the end, was and is the Word.