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You have entered the realm of my mind where words play with the fabric of our existence. This is the map of my imagination: the very foundations of inspiration, musing, and thought splayed for your wandering eyes. Dive deep into the tides of these forces and experience my reality, my fantasy, my world; and if you should be so inclined, share your words with this land.

Peace and Love!

J Hart F

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You Shouldn't Say "Should," Unless You Mean It!

People often ask me: What's my favorite word? I don't like this question and always have a difficult time answering. Words are my favorite. In a way, they must be; words are all we have to convey our world to any other, therefore I cherish these symbolic references like old friends. I can, however, answer the question: What's my least favorite word? The answer is "Should." I don't like the sound, the way it makes my mouth move, nor its connotations. Perhaps I dislike its connotations the most because they create emotion and reaction within when confronted with a "should." Think about it; Do you like when I say you should read my posts or you should vote for my candidate. I would naturally react the same way: with a trepid thoughts forewarning of unknown cognitive dissident trends revealing uncomfortable worldviews. To have such a solid, repetitive reaction to a word among many differing people holds that the word has been imbued with meaning from times past.

The etymology of "should" reveals a lot of the reasons why I dislike this word. Its sources in English stem back to the Old English world "Sceolde," the past participle of "Sceal," translated to "Shall." They both hold a strong sense of obligation in their meaning in Old English and were closely related to "Scyld" which means guilt and the Germanic world "Schuld" which means guilt and debt, pulling these definitions into the connotation of "should" whenever spoken or written in the 11th century. After all the language used during the 12th and 13th centuries had high religious conviction, binding the laymen to a socially normalizing culture by region as prescribed by the Church. As Old English progressed into Middle English after the 12th century, "Should" took on a future aspect in the encompassed action. For example: One should vote; meaning the individual has not yet voted and is obliged to take part in the action lest they be judged for the lack thereof. At this point in the history of the word "Should," "Sceolde" became related to the Middle English word "Shild," so much so that we now have a hard time detracting guilt, sin, crime, fault, and liability from "Should" today. One should not eat 'x' because 'y'; or one should believe 'x' because 'y'; where the statement 'y' has an intrinsic negativity closely associated (i.e. "One should not eat sugar because it triggers diabetes over long term use," where diabetes is bad).

Nowadays "Should" still encompasses a lot of these connotations, more so than "Shall." Where the latter has become more of an affirmation or action (i.e. "I shall go to the store."), the former is more of a directive laced with the aforementioned judgmental mentality. This is due to the close association of "Should" with philosophy in our time. In recent history this term has been closely linked with the ideology of right and wrong and morality. Now we see "Should" as prescriptive language asking the subject to question the immediate action at hand for its value in order to acknowledge another point of view as more correct (i.e. "You shouldn't cut onions that way; you should cut them this way"). The tone of guilt, sin, etc. may not be as strong in our language, but drawing morals into the discussion with current connotations of "should" echo the Old and Middle English linguistic trends. We know this because "Would," the second and third person predicate, does not hold the same connotative meaning of wrong doing, though it can be accusatory as in the derisive proclamation: "You would." Since the word has taken on a philosophical note it has also encouraged an authoritative aura, where the speaker/writer utilizing "should" knows best and is obliged to instruct the listener/ready of such knowledge. From my experience, those who use "should" in their speech often enjoy the dominating effect of the word. We can easily see this in our managers and they way they interact with their employees. Those who manage instead of lead often utilize "Should" where leaders open a conversation and preface ideas with "could you" or "what do you think about this" as alternatives to creating a change in their proletariats.

Then again, "Should" has its purpose in authority. One should (in fact) do a good job at work, if they don't consequences will come up. One should follow the law, because again consequences will arise. One should be healthy, share love, think less, etc. I can say these things wholeheartedly (even with my dislike of the word) because their prescription follows suit with my beliefs and larger understandings of the Verse. I take the philosophical stance, acknowledge the value of good and bad in actions and things, and draw conclusions that mirror those truths with which I assign my authority in saying this word in order to bring a balance and harmony into my world. When using language properly the full weight of the word can be harnessed. If we imagine a word highly overused (like love), we lose the power of the word. You can love a person, an animal; and a cup, or an idea, or a figment of imagination -- all just as much as you would like or admire or desire these same objects. Instead of using a more descriptive term we lump the idea into a larger term: Love. This is happening with "Should," where requests are disguised with knowledge, where authority covers insecurity, and when we can't accept other and attempt fixing it.

My experience with this word has colored my Verse. Living in America we're faced with a list of expectations in being a good and proper American. My generations were practically told that we should be straight, married, educated, hard working; that we should have a high credit score, go to church, save money; and by not adhering to these expectations we should expect scorn from our family, peers, and community. History books pointed to the righteous (those "shoulding" everywhere) always claiming victory, so why would we want to question these edicts? At the ripe age of 30, I've finally found footing to question these ideologies for myself and build a repertoire of "Should" in my life I can stand behind. That's all I ask of you now: look at when you say "Should" and begin to question if that's the right way to use it. Remember where this word has come from and what its use embodies in our language today. You may find when you start utilizing "Should" in the future people will listen more closely.