This morning someone commented to me that they respected my religion BUT they were going to blah blah blah.
And of course, this reminded me of a story.
Back when I was in nursing school, my fellow student nurses and I had to undergo what the nursing professors referred to as the semester evaluations. The students referred to it as the wailing wall, because you had to stand against the wall next to the evaluator’s office, waiting your turn to be eviscerated by the nurse mentor. The wailing always came afterwards.
I should clarify; the student nurses would weep. The experienced LPNs who could have taught the RN profs a thing or two would merely roll their eyes and go outside for a smoke and utter curses under their breath. Nevertheless, the results were always the same. The evaluations were designed by their very nature to excoriate the person in which it was aimed. It was violent, brutal in its verbosity and it taught nobody anything.
The evaluations always began with positive statements about the student, then with a murderous gleam in her eye, the evaluator would proceed to emotionally rip apart the student with negative statements.
Statements such as:
You’re very efficient, and I know you’ve been an LPN for decades, BUT I want you to retest on vitals. No particular reason, I just want you to do it.
You’re work is impeccable, your patients adore you and you’re grades are good, BUT you’re irresponsible and forgetful because you forgot to return a cart. You’re on report.
You're kind and compassionate BUT you care too much. Grow thicker skin or go home.
See the pattern?
I’m not fussing about students and teachers. This is merely an example. The point I’m making is that we see, hear and use but statements all the time, sometimes without realizing it.
But statements are harmful statements because they, like Lama Jigme’s discussion on why questions, tear us out of the now, violently and viciously with a whiplash motion that leaves us disoriented, deeply hurt, and scrambling for cover.
Such statements like:
I love you, BUT you’re whiny and you piss me off.
I respect your religion BUT you’ll burn in hell if you don’t believe exactly as I do.
That’s a nice dress, BUT it’s really not a good color for you.
But statements are another form of aggressive speech.
It’s a gift box with something horrible inside.
Its rotten fruit covered with chocolate sauce.
Or, if you prefer, it’s like luring a puppy over with a treat only to kick it once it’s in range.
But statements are like something tasty being poured onto something rancid, it only covers up the filth. It’s still there, and it’s still damaging, both to the person whom it’s aimed at and to the person who speaks it. It’s a bait and switch tactic, designed by its very nature to disarm the person with kindness just before offering the swift kick.
Come, let us snuff out the ‘but’ statements in our lives and in our speech. They are cruel and horrible and avail us nothing.
OM MANI PADME HUM
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