Speaking for Everyone

There’s this thing where newcomers at the Order have been told – on various occasions – not to speak for everyone else, only him or her self. There’s a reason for that though, a foundational reason that makes it kind of important on shifting their perspective to something more accurate, specific, and usable. And it’s not something that always applies, you really don’t have to do it if you already know how. Especially if you have other motivations for saying something, like wanting to learn about others (see, general statements, if they’re honest, can usually be altered from “we” or “us” into “I” anyways, so anyone you’re talking to like this isn’t missing out on getting insight into you). If it makes more sense for you to assert things about people in general even though you can only truly speak for yourself, then I’d say go ahead and do it. I do.

It can be good for communication because even if you make a broad statement or assertion about something, the people you’re interacting with get an idea of what you believe yourself, or believe about yourself, or what your opinion is. As long as everyone is operating under that awareness in this conversation or that conversation, it’s not really that bad of an idea. See, the language being used when you say something as if it applies in a broad or general way tends to trigger people into thinking about whether it actually applies to them to, especially if it’s something they don’t like. So leaving out specifiers like “I” or “in my opinion” or “I feel”, etc. or even making a point of using “us”, “we”, “our”, “they”, “them”, and so on can help to cause reactions, subtly stimulating communications between people.

This is arguably key to decent lectures too. To write one that resonates with someone or, better yet, inspires, demands a firm certainty in what you’re saying. It’s why common advice for writers is to ‘write about what you know’, it’s why practitioners are encouraged to speak from experience rather than in a wonderland of abstracts and hypothetical talks that have little to no relation with a persons actual experience. That sense of certainty – of authority – presents the reader with a stance and intrinsically encourages a response of some kind, a feeling about what’s being conveyed. In discussion, it forges connections between people; in written lectures, it can be a catalyst for the further evolution of a stance, practice, belief, or ideal (among other things).  The best are often polarizing, garnering feelings, thoughts, and responses on both sides of the spectrum (i.e. you either love it or hate it). It’s artistry.

“I always try to explain to people that I think that art is far more important than politics, and for some people like me it is the closest thing that can be religious. I think the idea of god is supposed to be about creation, so I think artists are put things to the world, I think that that’s ultimately is spiritual for me.

Art, to me is a question mark? I don’t think it should ever be an answer. Yeah, people ask you what your painting means, what your essay means? That is your answer; that is your response.

If you are an artist your goal is to affect people, whether that’s in a negative way or positive way, I think ultimately that is the role of the artist in society.”
~Marilyn Manson

Speaking for everyone isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’re mindful of what you’re doing. Not unlike the things I call instruments of safety in one of my own written lectures (ref. The Students Approach); they can be set aside just as the practice of presuming to “speak for everyone” through the use of certain terminology – especially in the process of learning how to operate without it, so it doesn’t become a crutch – and picked up again not as sign stupidity or ignorance, but as an effective instrument to influence people and ideas. Say something as if it’s an answer, as if it applies to anyone that reads it, and it becomes a question mark for the spectator, the reader, the audiences. More so, if you know and believe in what you’re talking about, what you’re creating.

(May need editing, will re-read and make revisions as needed sometime later today.)

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