Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Circles of "We"

This started out simply enough, with the idea for a blog talking about why I've always found the word "we" to be my favorite word in the English language, not for its sound but for its definition. (We: pronoun [ first person plural ] 1. used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people considered together). It's the commonality, the "together," I love.

And then, as so often happens when I'm looking up the definition of a word, I found myself thinking of another word which I then have to look up, which leads me to another word, which....Anyway, looking up "we" led me to think of the word "us" and how, to me, "us" and "we" were synonymous. So I looked up the definition of "us" and thereby went from dipping my toe in the water to plunging in far over my head.

The dictionary definition of "us" ( Us: pronoun [ first person plural ]1. used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people as the object of a verb or preposition) for some unknown reason pretty much drains the humanity out of it. The quality of "together" in the definition of "we" isn't even mentioned in the definition of "us," and for some inexplicable reason that both surprises and bothers me. I still can't help but seeing "we" and "us" as synonymous and overlapping.

But wanting to get on with the original intent of this blog, not knowing which word is really more applicable to its theme, I'll just arbitrarily use "we" because I like it more.

There are concentric circles of "we" in each of our lives, in which our individual selves are the center. And the minute I typed "our" in that sentence I was compelled to look it up to see how it relates to "we" and "us"! (Our: possessive adjective 1. belonging to or associated with the speaker and one or more other people previously mentioned or easily identified).

I swear, I shouldn't be allowed around a dictionary!

Dragging myself back to the circles of "we": while all circles appear to be generally the same, there are an infinite number of variations within each one. The individual is always the center of his/her own set of circles. The first circle outward from the center is family and, for most of us (and there we go with "us": see what I mean about overlaps?), the next one beyond that is friends. From that point, the lines between the circles become progressively less distinct the further out from the center one goes, with more overlapping and more variations: acquaintances/co-workers/colleagues, one's religion, social contacts, political affiliations, ethnic/minority identities.

Your circles...are as unique as fingerprints; while all circle categories may be basically the same, there are an infinite number of variations within each. Some circles, like family, religion, and ethnicity, we are born into and, while we may be free to leave some of them, we seldom do. As we pass from childhood to adulthood, we tend to add to our circles, to create new ones, or to join the circles of others.

But what all these circles have in common, and the point of this blog, is that they all--as with so very much of our lives--stem from our individual, personal concept of the word "we"...those things and people which create within us the sense of comfort and belonging.

"We," "us," "our," and "together" form the bases upon which human society is built and wherein our hopes for the future lie.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back. And please take a moment to check out for information on Dorien's "Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs."

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