Thursday, June 5, 2014


Some time ago—I think it was while I had my afternoon nap—the word issue came into its own.
I lay down to rest my eyes and mind, determined not to think about any more problems for the next 45 minutes—and I woke up to discover my problems had received an upgrade. Now they were . . . Issues.

Everywhere I turn, there they are: health issues, banking issues, car issues (really??), personal issues. The danged things are fertile as guinea pigs.
I can’t open a new can of dog food without having issues with the pull-tab lid. My phones are having issues of their own (probably in-fighting among relatives).

The dog reports issues—not enough food, wrong kind of food, water dish empty, and the biggest issue of all: I’m not reading her mind about when it’s time to go out and . . . you know. (This last issue has resulted in carpets that desperately need cleaning, my own fault, of course.)
After a good long think about the I-word, I’ve concluded that it was born as a replacement for the P-word.

Consider this:
·         Problems generate the companion word solutions
·         Issues, however, are stand-alones; they just are; they require no action, they merely exist; of course, you’re free to “deal with” issues; they won’t mind. But you’re not obliged to do any deep digging for a solution.
·         If I name something an issue, I have given it new status; I’ve made it into a virtual statue in the park: look, touch, talk about—but you don’t have to do anything with it.

The main issue with issue is the way it gathers moss as it rolls along. For decades we’ve had morticians (who used to be undertakers); water pollution control departments (formerly water and sewer departments); refuse removal (garbage collection); marketing associates (sales people); and a whole boatload of other definitions to sanitize what used to be just Life As It Is.
Some changes, I know, are plain common sense: Letter carrier instead of mailman—after all, many postal employees who deliver mail are women.

Now, before anyone gets the wrong end of the stick and runs off with it, let me say this: I’m all for changes in language. That’s a sign that a language is living. For instance, we no longer say, “Thou art more to me than yon mountain or sea.”
The real, um, well, issue here is this—are we communicating? Do we truly understand one another? Am I, by the words I choose, giving you a false impression of what I believe? Or feel? Or know?

Sorry to run . . . you’ll have to excuse me now—my neighbor boy is coming today for tutoring and I’m going to have to do a little study. We’re going to work on his math--story issues, I believe.

THURSDAY’S CHILD will publish Monday, June 9, as part of a writers’ blog tour. I’ll talk about my creative writing endeavors, and introduce you to Liz Flaherty in more depth. Come join us as we talk about our writing projects and habits.

No issues here, boss.


  1. I like the word "issues" because--as you mentioned--they don't require solution. They just are. Great post, Judith.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Get a good rest Sunday night so you can co-star on Monday morning!