Such a powerful word, “We.” Two letters, one syllable, and yet it has one of the most powerful context usages in the English language. We, while visually innocuous, speaks volumes when used in the correct sentence. Perhaps it’s because I wield language as both a sword and a shield, but I think a lot about the words we use, and how they too can be used as a sword and a shield. No word is as much of a Swiss Army Knife as “we.”
“We” is the defeat of solitude. Saying “we” conjures strength in numbers. “We” is the stark absence of loneliness. “We” is a first-world army against the militia forces of “I.” “We” could be as simple as two, or be as vast as a cast of thousands. “We” is Nirvana to those who dwell in “I.”
“We” can be used to speak for others who may not have as loud of a voice as others. “We want fair compensation for the work we do,” or “we want fair treatment.” We can also be used to misrepresent your very nature. Someone stands up and says “we want chicken nuggets,” when you really want French Fries. To that end, it could be much more insidious: “we want all the people with blue eyes to be forced to donate their irises, to share the beauty of being blue eyed with the people who want it.”
“We” can be used as a defensive mechanism. Someone gets called out for using a word improperly — perhaps even butchering the word completely. “We always called it that,” is a method to deflect a perception of ignorance. If someone belongs to a collective “we,” then the perceived ignorance isn’t as egregious.
“We” can be inclusive. “We want you here,” “we welcome you,” and “we missed you.”
“We” can be exclusive and painful. “We don’t want you here,” or “we don’t like you.”
“We” is a coward’s extension. “We don’t feel you’re a good fit for the company anymore,” when the truth is your boss has something personal against you, and has orchestrated your departure without being personally responsible. “We feel it’s best,” when “I am an asshole” is more appropriate.
“We” is a war-cry. “We won’t stand for this.”
“We” is surrender. “We want to go back to work, we’ll meet your conditions.”
“We” is a facade for insecurities. “I’ve got friends and we’re going to make you wish you were never born.” Their friends, if they exist, have no personal involvement in the matter at hand. Perhaps the person wielding “we” hopes their friends love them enough to get into an altercation to defend their honor.
“We” is a method to draw attention to a singular person. One member of a team didn’t do Task X and the whole operation failed. The leader may say “we didn’t do Task X,” when everybody knows whose responsibility it was to do the task.
“We” is a responsibility. “We” implies the consensus of others and thus “we” should be used with implied consent and permission. “We” is safety and to use “we” is to accept that you are carrying the heart-born message in it’s most biblical truth.
Sometimes, “we” is a liability. “We” may have been on your wavelength at first, but now believes something drastically different than initially concepted. “We” may believe something that completely contradicts your core values.
I like being a part of “we.” Sometimes all I’ve had was “I,” because “we” wouldn’t be concerned with me. When those opportunities to be a part of “we” arise, I grab them with loving arms, and steadfast conviction. If you struggle with “we,” please know that if you’re reading this, you have a place in the Millerverse (and a “we” by proxy). You are part of my “we” and I am glad to have you.
Thank you for reading and I will see you on your next trip across the Millerverse.
The Reigning Archduke of Mayhem