To you or to me, it feels like the pronoun fight is wasted energy. It definitely may be impractical, at least at the present time. I have no argument about that.
But … I’m assuming (and I will gladly throw out the assumptions when we get your First Person insights, because as you stated, those are key to true understanding), I’m assuming that the pronoun matters to someone, someone who has felt pain, possibly very deep, lasting pain, and that pain is now symbolized by that tiny word, a pronoun.
When people behave in a manner that seems irrational to me, maybe that’s a sign I need to stop and look closer? It’s hard for anyone to be rational when hurting.
If something strikes me as “stupid” or “wrong-headed,” maybe that means I am totally oblivious to another person’s pain? Maybe I need to look closer?
So, I’m assuming that the pronoun issue exists because people have had horrid experiences that are now symbolized by a pronoun.
As you stated, words are important. Meaning is important. But they are really only important as long as they are used to communicate with another human being.
You said, “the rule book — language…” I don’t think language is simply a set of rules. The rules exist so that we can interact and seek understanding. Rules help people who don’t know each other find a way to start to know each other. But language is a growing, organic, customizable world in which we encounter each other, relate, and become known.
Every communication, every interaction, requires a shift in mental representations, an expanding of our picture of the world to make room for the person we interact with and the picture of the world that person feels, lives, experiences.
A word can mean something different to me than to you. When I attempt to communicate with you, authentically and personally, then I must allow your meaning to stand as valid, if only for the duration of our interaction.
When I encounter a new person, I am more than willing to change my vocabulary, learn a new language, and interact within another world-view. The rules help, especially in the beginning of a relationship. But often the relationship is helped more when we notice that the rules hinder true understanding.
Relationships transcend rules, language is only a tool for mind to touch mind, and knowing someone well sometimes means making up new words.
I don’t know the answers either. I’m trying and learning and hope my blundering doesn’t injure someone who is already in pain.
If I can help someone by using a word a little differently or guarding a restroom door while someone who feels vulnerable needs a moment, I’m glad to do that.
As you stated, it’s important to be practical. I hope we can all search for practical ways we can act in kindness toward anyone in need of a little help and protection.