I collect sentences and short passages to use in a variety of instructional ways in my classes.  Today as I looked at the spreadsheet that is the warehouse for this collection, I found this gem from Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi:

We are synonyms but not the same.

Synonyms know each other and like old colleagues, like a set of friends who’ve seen the world together, they swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other.  Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because the way they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything (108).

It makes me stop and think about assumptions we make about one another- even those we think we know the best- and about how archetypes and stereotypes sometimes get in the way of understanding those around us.

Not all English teachers correct people’s grammar outside the classroom, nor do they all enjoy teaching Shakespeare while in it.

Not all church people are conservatives.  Not all conservatives are closed-minded.

Not all teens are irresponsible or disrespectful; not all those who are disrespectful mean it as a personal attack.

But there’s more to it than that.

Everyone wears their experiences differently.  Even though we might have similar life events, we sometimes miss the opportunity to genuinely see one another because our own interpretations stand in the way.

What is a burden for one might be an easy load for another.

My last straw might be your normal.

We all need to give one another grace.

It’s easy to forget that.