We are. I am. He/she/it is. You are. They are. To be. Being. Been. All of these are the same verb in English–the verb “to be.” It is in most languages the most commonly used verb and in many instances, among the most commonly used of all words. And, it is irregular. Imagine trying to explain to a new learner of English that am, is, are, was, were, been, and being are all the same verb. Some are singular. Some are plural. Some are in the present tense while others are in the past tense, and a couple are only participles or infinitives and while they represent the core of the word, there is nothing about the way they look at first that gives any clue that they are the same word.
A lot like people (which is one explanation for why this word is used so often–it allows us to speak most directly about ourselves).
Let’s pretend for a moment. There was this guy named Are. Are was something of a bully. He came from a large family and lived in a neighborhood full of people who were just like him. One day, while waiting for the train to go to work, Are began picking on a small guy named Am. “What are you doing around here, Am? You are a freak. Nobody wants to be around you. Your are not normal.” Am and Are argued for a minute when Are began shoving Am and saying things like–“Look, you freak. Real Beings are always together. None of us lives alone like you, you freak.” Am tried desperately: I am just as much a Being as you, Are.” At that moment Is stepped up. Leave him alone, Are. Some of us do live alone. Am and Is stood together, but immediately Are was joined with relatives: We Are and They Are. We Are shouted: Look, you idiots. All Beings are always with other Beings. We are plural. Real Beings ARE always plural. We are plural. They are plural. You are plural. Beings are always plural. Why don’t you freaks, Am and Is, get out of here and leave normal Beings alone. We don’t like you. We don’t think you are normal.
There was a bit of a skirmish in the back of the train platform. A small but enthusiastic little Being made her way up to where they all stood. She caused them all to stop and fall silent. We Are spoke to her: what do you want? She smiled. “I just wanted you to know that I am an Are, but I am single. My name is You Are, and I am singular, not plural, but I look just like We Are and You Are (plural) and They Are. You all are Bullies. Am and Is belong to us. They look different. They sound different. They are always single, but so am I. And we are all Being. You Are (plural) looked down at the ground. This was his daughter, and he knew she was right.
Our song this month, We Are, affirms many things about us as human beings including that “We are the Spirit of God.” Many will want to argue with that. Some will want to make a clear distinction between humanity and God. Some will want to argue that there is no such thing as God. And yet, every single thing that has ever been said or revealed about God or Gods and Goddesses has come through human beings. We are the Spirit of God. And we human beings are straight and gay. Some of us are transgender beings and others are bisexual beings. Some of us are dark skinned beings and others lighter skinned beings and despite our language not a single human being on the face of the earth is truly black or white. Some of us are female beings and others are male beings and some are inter-sexed beings. All of us have aspects of the feminine and the masculine inside us.
We are. Why would we want to parse that down to just one form of what it means to be a human being?
Bob, Instead of trying to craft a cute response in parallel with what
you just sent, I’m gonna simply say, “This is wise, clever, and effective.
Thank you for such an imaginative and helpful construct that conveys
spiritual and social wisdom. Gratefully, Roy.
Thank you, Rev. Roy. Your encouragement means much to me.