Isn’t it nice knowing
that you can make a difference simply by choosing your words wisely?
The other day I was writing the literary equivalent of a cold call; a letter to someone I didn’t know nor did I even know their name. It was basically to whomever opened it at the organization I was interested in collaborating with.
Dear Sir/Madam I started.
I wrote the letter and was proud of the content and tone of all of it except that first line; Dear Sir or Madam.
Really Alison! Is that the best you can do in this day and age of openness, acceptance and tolerance when it comes to gender? Why would I, a woman with (or so I thought) a solid handle of what’s what in our wonderful, prideful world, address a letter to either and only a sir or madam? I thoroughly perplex myself sometimes. I don’t realize how robotic certain words and actions are and so I repeat them unthinkingly and end up humiliating myself without even being aware. Dumb. I don’t like being dumb.
These words - dear Sir/Madam - I decided, must go and NEVER COME BACK. They represent an obsolete greeting for a dead generation. A generation so overrun by rules and dogma that too much joy and love has been suffocated before they ever got a chance to LIVE. Today, NOW, this is the new world - a world that values joy and love like never before , a world made up of colourful souls and we must not revert to black and white. Love is love is love. No matter the colour, no matter the gender - love itself is what matters. Besides, nothing is black and white anymore, except zebras, pianos and some of the greatest movies ever made. No longer do we live in a world where letters are opened solely by sirs and madams.
This past spring I shared some bracelets with the Legislative Women’s Caucus of New York State and the woman I was dealing with there ended her correspondence with her full name and underneath her name (she/her/hers) with an addendum at the bottom of the email
I was intrigued and clicked on the link and got an education. I hope you click and learn too and we can all say Thank you Ms. Humbert.
So I went back to that letter I was composing and changed the opening line to…
To Whom It May Concern,
That’s really all that matters anyways isn’t it? That the right person opens it and that can be a man or a woman or someone who identifies differently and that’s perfectly alright and wonderful.
Just yesterday Lady Gaga advised her fans to ask others “what is your pronoun?” According to this article by Yahoo News in New Zealand she went on to say she has felt "misunderstood in different ways" over the years and "learned" that asking the simple question can make a big difference to someone's happiness. Isn’t it nice knowing that you can make a difference to someone’s happiness simply by choosing your words wisely? Shouldn’t we all use our powers wisely and aren’t words mighty powerful tools of humanity? Think before we speak and all that.
Just curious, how do you address cold call letters and/or do you identify your gender within your correspondence?
Hope you are all enjoying this wonderful June weather and being kind to everyone, yourself included.