Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Should we say "what everyone is thinking"?

On an impulse a few weeks ago I bought a lapel button that reads:

“Say the thing that everyone is thinking.”

But after thinking about the message, I decided not to wear the button.

I still have it because I am weighing its command. There’s certainly truth in its words. The implied message is that all those thoughts that “everyone is thinking” haven’t been articulated and put into general, accessible, circulation.

The button wants us to get on with it. Speak already!

It’s akin to the idea of speaking truth to power.

We’ve all had that experience of reading or hearing something and reacting with “Exactly! I was thinking the same thing myself!” Now, at last, you have the words you need to pass on the thought.

So why am I reluctant to wear the button?

As important as the message is, there’s an assumption that everyone is, in fact, thinking important unspoken thoughts, and, even more questionable, that everyone is thinking the same thing.

“Everyone” is a big word that can get us in trouble.

Besides, I believe it is more important to say what everyone (else) is not thinking. We need new thinking. We need thoughts never thought before. The old ones, whether articulated or not, seem to have put us in a heap of trouble.

Finally, there’s the notion that “thinking” is the end all. Before (and after) we think, we should feel. I've concluded in my advanced years that deeper truths reside in feeling.

I doubt I would wear a button that reads “Say the thing that everyone is FEELING” because, again, not everyone is feeling the same thing.

We should say what we feel — and think — whether others are feeling and thinking it or not.

That’s pretty much what I hope I've done here.

The lapel button comes later. . . .

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