Recently, while enjoying some moments of relaxed contemplation, we were unexpectedly confronted with the uncomfortable realization that, at certain times in the past, we had thoughtlessly failed to properly acknowledge services rendered to us, the absence of which, would be most problematic.

 As we have often declared, the existential epoxy joining together members of society is the existence of a mutually communicative language. Without functional and meaningful interaction, mankind would be solitary, vulnerable, unduly taxed with personal survival; and further, would anthropologically, lack cultural identity and opportunity for personal advancement. Thus, although normally, the stereotypic “unsung hero,” furnishing the valued service is a human being, we have respectfully chosen, for the suitable reasons, set forth below, [please bear with us] to nominate for that honored and exalted role, the ubiquitous noun, “but.”

It takes but a moment to empirically observe that the word, “but,”  itself, faithfully and without limit, focuses one’s interactive communication, precisely, on the intended nature, and more to the point, on the desired extent of our declarations or observations, and, as well, to qualifications [he is quiet, but very friendly, singularizing or generalizing, [it is the coldest region in Michigan] moderating [ he was angry but not violent] or emphasizing, [it was John Dillinger who robbed the most banks], contrasting, [Obama was one of our best Presidents, but Trump was the worst], excluding, [ all but Selwin agreed], negating, [he gave us directions, but they were wrong], specifying, [I like vegetables, but I hate radishes] , conceptualizing,[what  we tried, was everything but heat],  explaining, [ he couldn’t come for health reasons] distinguishing, { I would prefer all but the dark tie], reconciling, [but you have to be in her shoes to understand], enhancing, [ but the spotlight made her even more beautiful], degrading, [ but he is really a charlatan] , expressing, [ I stand for progress, but your suggestion is  untimely], suggesting, [you can try it, but it is very spicy], implying good or bad quality, [the cheese looked rotten, but it tasted fine] and is functionally ubiquitous in all communication, speech or writing.

Unfortunately, the contemporary scene is replete with extreme divisiveness and rancor, evincing extremist declarations of diverse dogma and divergent views. The latter extremes may, to a degree, be capable of moderation or clarification, if desired, by the filtered use of words of distinction or limitation, following the simple employment of the ombudsman-like word “but,” in order to signify exceptions or intended degree. Illustrations of such use may be noted in: “She is in generally in favor of Federal assistance, but certainly not a believer in Socialism”, “She came home after midnight but was with her aunt”, “He is very fat, but has a very handsome face”, “Bob prefers steak but ordered fish”, “He is, generally a stingy man, but good to his family” “We can deliver the lumber, but not before Wednesday.” “It tasted sweet, but not too cloying.” “ How can you forget, it happened but one week ago.”

In the brief sample, cited above, the essential and ultimate observations or factual statements will be remembered, as intentionally and meaningfully modified, or filtered by our ubiquitous verbal hero, “but,” so  that the desired degree of undertaking, conclusion, or expectation is qualified, by means of the subject noun giving them the intended degree of effectuation, viz., “but.”

It would be a salutary development, if the prevalent, and harmful National divisiveness could, somehow, be qualified, or delimited by a functionally moderating word or analogous concept such as the celebrated noun, “but.” But, judging the tenor of the times, it could not. But, if it only could!


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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