Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lately I’ve been thinking that it would be good to eliminate all use of personal pronouns in my speaking and writing. Our world is afflicted with a serious case of selfishness, and personal pronouns only reinforce the problem. Everything is personal and self-centered: “I” have this idea, which is better than “your” idea. This is “my” space, and you better stay in “your” space. It’s amazing how wrapped up I am in my own separated, isolated, private existence, and this fixation reveals itself in my use of personal pronouns. I’m sure I would be astonished if I could count how often I use the words “I”, “me”, “mine”, “you”, “yours”, etc. I wonder if it would be possible to eliminate these words from my vocabulary. (I just used two of them in that sentence!) Instead of saying, “I have an idea”, I could say, “This is an interesting idea” – suggesting that the idea doesn’t exclusively belong to me, but rather had its origin in many different sources (books, other people, etc). Instead of saying, “Now I understand this chapter”, I could say, “It is very clear now.” In fact, the word “It” (which is often classified as a personal pronoun) might serve as a replacement for “I”, “me”, “you”, etc. “It” could be appropriate and helpful because it suggests the impersonal nature of the universe. There is no truth more important than that the world is not composed of separate “personal” individualities (this is the self-centered outlook), but is actually one harmonious reality. Instead of being personal and therefore unconnected, the universe is actually impersonal and therefore connected and harmonious. Using “it” would release me from the grip of I-ness and you-ness, and would evoke the grand harmony of the universe. “It” is, after all, an astonishing place.

(By the way, thirteen personal pronouns were used in that paragraph. This pronoun-elimination project will not be easy!)

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