September 10, 2010

(on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary and possible public burning of a Koran, I submit what  life has taught me thus far…)

A” and “the” – two seemingly innocuous words. Two words used so often that, according to Wikipedia “the” holds number one spot of most commonly used English words, whilst “a” is ranked 6th. Often they are used totally interchangeably, yet “a” and “the” mask very different and powerful philosophies. And it is a tension between these two philosophies that has caused our world untold suffering.

Consider these examples:

a man

the man

Spot a difference?

A man, is a man, is a man. Any man. Another man. A man amongst many others.

What about “the man”? He is the man! Not merely “a” man. The man. The one and only.

John is a man.

John is the man.

A big difference. And unfortunately it extends way beyond men. Here are some examples:

a man                         the man

a leader                      the leader

a fact                           the fact

a choice                     the choice

a way                          the way

a truth                          the truth

A problem with the is that there can never be two “thes”

The leader is the one leader. There is never room for another “the leader”. And if anybody wants to become the one leader he or she needs to eliminate the other leader. Which is why the-one-and-only leaders are usually dictators. And for the leader’s subjects, a choice becomes the choice. Which really means no choice.

With a leader there is always space for an other leader. Many leaders. And each person has a choice about which leader (or even leaders) to follow. Democracy.

The bans others

A accepts others. There can always be an other. And another.

Another difference between a and the, is that a really radical the can become The. Yes, a Capital The. John is not even “the man” anymore, but The Man. A doesn’t butt in like that. Try and put a capital A somewhere in a sentence: John is A man. Amen to correct grammar.

How many wars have been fought over Thes? This is The Way, The Truth, The Life. There is no other way, no other truth, no other life. Your way is wrong. You must be converted to The Way. Your prophet is wrong, you must obey The Prophet. Otherwise I might kill you. In the name of The God.

Does this mean there can only be gods and no God? No, there is still plenty of room for a God. But another person might also have a God. Makes sense, doesn’t it, that everybody can have a God? If they want one.

Away with The God, doesn’t mean away with a God. And nor, if you think about it, does away with The Way mean away with a Way…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

crazy mermaid September 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm

A very timely article given the 9/11 timeframe.

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