I’ve just come out of a session of meditation that gifted me with what I believe some of you call a “divine download.” Well whatever it’s called, it’s got my grey matter running on all cylinders and my passion level ramped up to 11.
What has my spirit fired up so? I’m so glad you asked…
We need to banish the word “just” from our vocabulary. While we’re at it, “chillax” should probably be deposited in the proverbial dustbin as well. Dreadful thing.
Anyway, the word “just,” or to be more precise, its adverb form, needs to be expunged from our collective consciousnesses. Why? Because ladies and gentlebeings it is a tool of oppression.
Yes I said oppression dammit!
The word is used as a pejorative to downplay the value of people and things. Worse still, in a kind of masochistic madness that boggles the right-thinking mind, we use it on ourselves.
We say things like, “Well, I’m just a writer,” “I’m just a bookkeeper,” or my personal favourite, and the source of today’s verbal vexation:
“I’m just a cog in the machine.”
You can actually hear the sound of a person’s self worth disintegrating when they say thinks like that can’t you?
It’s heartbreaking, but even more heartbreaking is the fact that I’ve said such things myself many, many times. I suspect, you have as well.
Now I could list a million reasons why you are not “just” an anything. If you’re reading these words, then I can state, without fear of contradiction, that you are far more than you could ever imagine possible. I know that to be true, and deep down inside, you do as well.
However I’m not going to go down that road. Instead, I’d like to tackle the logic (or lack thereof) of the sentence itself, and thereby make my point. Ready?
First of all, I can say with absolute certainty that anyone who says they are “just a cog in the machine” has a limited understanding of what a “cog” is or how it works.
Cogs (or gears) are small, intricate parts of a larger machine. Not so common in our electronic, invisible technology times, back in the day, gears and cogs were the height of modern technology.
Clockwork mechanisms were (and are) intricate, complex and dare I say it, absolutely beautiful.
However, more to my point, cogs and gears were essential to the running of the machine. The parts may have been small, but the damage or removal of just one would cause the others to cease functioning.
In the world of clockwork mechanisms, there’s no such thing as being “just” a cog. That piece has a vital role to play in the running of the machine.
Saying you are “just” a cog in the machine also implies that you have no freewill, that you’re just meant to be another drone on the assembly line.
Perhaps, but what if you looked at it another way? What if you saw your role in “the great machine” as your ultimate purpose?
To take it a step further, “machines” come in many forms. You’re a machine, simply a biochemical one. What if you saw the “great machine” as life, and your role within it as a vital and valuable piece of that life?
My carbon-based compadres, I have, over the last few minutes, assailed you with a plethora of metaphorical monkey business, and for that… I make no apology.
I’m trying to help you understand what I am only now understanding – that you are not “just” an anything. When you were born, your very existence added a unique and ineffable… “something” to the sum total of the universe. A new voice was added to the chorus.
So, while I think we should not use the word “just” as a way to diminish, it could be said that we are, in reality, cogs in the great machine, voices in the great chorus.
You “just” need to open your mouth and sing.
The audience… indeed, the universe, is listening.