O.K.? Yes, this little essay is about O.K., or if you prefer, okay...the colloquial word denoting approval, assent, or acknowledgment.

I have found, over time (and perhaps it's just a function of getting older), that "O.K." has become more and more useful to me, especially as a response. It allows me to acknowledge someone, and whatever they are saying.

The Bible tells us, in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Often, just saying "O.K." is a great way to maintain a peaceable relationship with someone. Whether or not I agree is often beside the point.

For example, Gaye tells the story of when she was pregnant in Utah, she would sometimes notice that the blinds were open , and she would want to close them, but didn't feel like getting up to do it. She would say, "Dan...the blinds are open," and I would grunt, and get up to close the blinds...only to have her tell me she didn't mean to ask me to close the blinds...it was just a comment on her part. That would have been a perfect time, if I had understood, to just say, "O.K."

(This is not, of course, an excuse for moral laziness. If something is NOT O.K., then we need to stand up for what's right. And, notice that the usage I'm discussing here is a response to a statement, not an affirmative answer to a question. Ya gotta be careful...)

More recently, I've begun to use "O.K." as an answer for many things my kids say. It might be, "Dad, I want a dog." Rather than get into a battle over whether or not we'll actually get a dog, or the pros & cons, I can just say, "O.K." The kids are gradually becoming aware of what I mean, now...in this example, I'm not agreeing to GET a dog...I'm agreeing that the kid WANTS a dog. It's o.k. to want a dog...and I can leave it at that.

Other examples, where I simply acknowledge the other person's position:

"I don't understand why you did that." "O.K."

"This is so embarrassing." "O.K."

"I'm bored." "O.K."

This one, of course, I will often follow up with "Being bored is a choice. There are lots of things you can do," and if necessary, I'll rattle them off: play chess, read a book, take a bath, play frisbee, ride a bike, take pictures, bake some cookies, call a friend... At that point, the kid will usually leave me alone, knowing that I'm not offering any simpathy.

"But I don't like Mexican food." "O.K."

"That bug has been on our windshield for two days." "O.K."

So...if you want to live "peaceably with all," consider saying "O.K." a little more often!