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I was reading my new John Stossel book when I realized something.
Starchild and I (and others) have debated a bit about using "we" and "us"
to talk about the United States and its government. I believe that I have
partial responsibility for things the US government does, even if I oppose
those things, while Starchild emphasizes that he did not give them
permission to act in his name. I think we both have good moral and
philosophical arguments on our sides.
In _Give Me a Break_, Stossel criticizes the media many times (and in his
talk on Friday). When he does, he says things like, "We in the
media...". I was thinking about why he did it and why I found it so disarming.
I think it makes his criticism much more effective. He's admitting to
being part of the problem, and therefore has more cachet in pointing it
out. His criticism becomes more valid. He also gets credit for trying to
help solve the problem, for doing his part, rather than for just
And that, I think, is a good reason to continue to use first-person plural
to talk about the US. Second-person is out: haranguing a crowd about
*their* problems is unlikely to be effective. But by saying "we," you put
yourself the speaker and the audience into one boat, folks with a common
problem that we can all work together to fix. Saying "the government" or
"they" means that someone else has a problem, and trying to fix someone
else's problems is unpleasant at best and impossible at worst. But if we -
the electorate and citizenship - are partly responsible, then it's a lot
easier for *us* to fix the problem. We - the voters to whom you're
speaking included - can make a change, just by changing how *we* vote and
think about *our* representatives and their actions. It's easy for folks
to dismiss what goes on in Sacramento and Washington as Somebody Else's
Problem. If you make it their problem, they'll want to invest in the solution.
"Reality is a pie of which I do not require another slice."
~ Shelley Winters, "Scary Go Round" by John Allison
Freelance text nerd: <URL: http://crism.maden.org/ >
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