No-no words …
General Rick Hillier, in his speech handing over his generalship, called every one of our troops “heroes all!” Heroine is apparently another word gone into no-no lingo land, along with stop, the, and now, weathervane.
Weathervane was tossed aside just recently by the Quebec legislature. Yep, they declared it “unparliamentary!”
“Don’t they get it?” asked Big Ray. “Words aren’t unparliamentary, they are! Their actions, their behaviour on the floors of all our legislative houses across the land point like weather vanes in blowing political winds. Reminds me of my Irish aunt telling me about her neighbour, “She just opens her mouth and lets the wind blow her tongue around.”
“The,” and “Yukon” were married about a century ago, including in Robert Service’s poetry, but were separated by a government decree a couple of decades back. Although it seems common usage is making the decree defunct. Farley Mowat said, “Good on you, Yukoners.”
Stop is a special case. The one I mean is on red, octagonal signs everywhere and seems to have joined the advice given visitors a few years ago by the Frantic Follies character, the Mad Trapper of Riverdale, when he declared Whitehorse a turn-signal-free zone.
I submit a one-hour stop sign study: 61 cars approached the stop sign in the hour. Four stopped, 11 others stopped, albeit reluctantly, to avoid being hit by the cars on the main drag. Forty-six didn’t stop, but there’s a qualifier—10 of them were slow-downs, their wheels kept rolling quite slow but picked up and went right on down the avenue. Stop hasn’t been banned but, like the “The” decree, is being ignored with a bylaws-be-darned approach, I guess.
Meanwhile back at the word ranch, “karuna” came along, a weathervane maybe pointing to a direction which might lead us, or them, through these word conundrums.
‘Karuna,’ from Sanskrit, is ‘loving compassion’ according to writer Suresh Jindal who explained it further in the Times of India, November 13, 2003: “Once we experience and feel this inter-dependence of all living beings, we will cease to hurt, humiliate, exploit and kill another. We will want to free all sentient beings from suffering. This is karuna, compassion, which in turn gives rise to the responsibility to create happiness and its causes for all.”
We have lots of words matching karuna. Mothers, for one; the mothers of the Dirty Thirties who put three meals a day on our tables when three meals a day was impossible for too many. Heroine fits them better than hero; Dads gets the hero badge for bringing the food home for Mom, and going to war .
I’m all for ‘karuna’, or its equivalent, although does it have to include mosquitoes?
General Hillier has it right, our troops are the weathervane to heroes and heroines past and present. Unfortunately, war is like mosquitoes, we try our darndest to get rid of them, yet they come back in greater numbers, stronger than ever and they never seem to stop.
There’s a lot of peace wrapped in our Yukon solitude. It’s not the same as peace among peoples, but maybe that’s where it begins.
Who among us cannot spend time in the true solitude of a remote Yukon valley embraced by the soft breath of a long summer evening where your breath is the only sound, until a loon calls, or a wolf howls, and not come away reawakened to life and all its wonders?
Enjoy the Yukon’s peace! Take it home in your heart.