This is Tony, the cat we added to our household a year or so ago, when he came to the door for his daily dinner and clearly asked to come inside, because he was tired of fighting for his life in the wild.
Tony is a "he" - not an "it" - no matter what the English style manual pundits want me to believe. So, I'm breaking one of my hard and fast rules, and swimming against the tide of correct grammar and usage. As an ACT tutor, and one of the most annoying people you will ever meet when it comes to correcting others on subject-verb agreement, the correct uses of semi-colons and colons, and other minutiae of written expression, this should have been a much harder choice for me.
But it wasn't. Sometimes, we just have to do what is morally and ethically right. I believe that language reflects culture and attitudes. So, the way we speak to each other really matters. That's what Dr. Masaru Emoto found when he performed his research on the structure of water and wrote his books, including the well-known The Hidden Messages in Water. I've seen Dr. Emoto present the results of his research (shown on a 40-foot screen), which he does not claim to be "scientific" (because the images are not the same each time, and our outdated scientific protocols require results to be replicable), but I defy you to be there and not feel the truth of what he describes - and I say this as a person trained in science.
Emoto discovered that when water was exposed to words such as "love" and "gratitude" or certain types of music such as Bach and soft rock, photographs reflected stunning and symmetrical structures. When exposed to "I hate you" or heavy metal music, the photographs were formless blobs. Emoto's work appears in the book and movie What The Bleep Do We Know, and has reached a worldwide audience. Now, I remind myself that my tone of voice, my words, and my intentions are all affecting the structure of water in other living things, and that the vibrational frequencies we emit do influence our environments and relationships.
So, when the "accepted" standard requires that I refer to creatures of other species as "it" - well, I rebel. Tony is a "he" and deserves to be respected for his individual sentience, his preferences, and his connection to me and to things I cannot see. Tony, like other animals, has within him a deep knowing about things that are far more essential than the latest reality television show or text message demanding my attention.
Let the grammar people have their silly rule. I'll teach my ACT students to use "it" on the test and get the extra point for that question. Then, I hope that they will join me in breaking this rule of pronoun usage and connecting with other living things in just one more small way.
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