A few days ago I had a discussion with a friend about the economy. The conversation centered around whether or not the economy would return to pre-COVID levels, or fall when the extended unemployment benefits finally expire. I expressed my concerns that the stock market will crash to some extent once the stimulus and unemployment benefits run out. The response was, “well, you know that is what They want.” When I asked who They is, well, I never got an answer. I suddenly realized that the solution to the world’s problems is to get rid of They!

Many years ago while I was in the Air Force, I listened to the 5th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, CMSAF (Ret) Robert Gaylor, speak at a USAF First Sergeant Academy graduation. He told us about one of his experiences while he was serving as the Air Force’s senior Chief. While visiting Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, he was asked if he would discuss reenlistment options with a young Airmen who was nearing the end of his first enlistment. Chief Gaylor agreed and met the young man later that day for a discussion.

The Chief was expecting a young man that had made up his mind to leave the Air Force, but he got a big surprise. When the Airman was asked why he was considering leaving, he told the Chief he wasn’t leaving just yet. He said he hadn’t decided to make the military a career, but was going to hang around a little longer because there were two things he wanted to achieve before he left. Chief Gaylor curiously asked what were the two things? The young Airman replied that he wanted to meet They and see the big picture. He used this story to make two points to the academy graduates. USAF First Sergeants are They and are expected to have a good grasp of the big picture.

During my years in the service, when I was able to go home, my mother would put me in the car and drive me around to see relatives and friends. When people would ask me a question, Mother would find a way to chime in with her two cents. “ They’re sending him here or there,” or “ They want him to do this or that.” In her mind, They controlled my life and I couldn’t do anything without approval from They. Maybe there was some truth to that early on, but as I became more senior, They became me. Yes, I always had several levels of They above me, but I made it my business to know who They was.

Why am I making such a fuss over They? As I alluded to in the opening paragraph, They may be the reason that political discussions are so difficult these days. The next time you engage in political discussion with another person, if you pay attention you may find that there is a third wheel in the discussion, They. And unless you or the person you are talking with can find a way to push They out of the conversation, They may end the conversation for you.

They’s credibility often goes without being questioned and is often the preferred source above even nationally recognized, named, and qualified experts. No one claims to know or have met They or knows anyone who has, yet They is considered credible. Contrast that to the fact that many think COVID-19 is a hoax because no one they know has ever had it or died from it. This level of recognition is quite a feat for They considering that say and want are the only two skills that They has.

They may be the most cited reference in verbal communication, often spoken of with reverent awe. They may go by an alias such as Many People, Others, Friends and even Expert. In other forms of communication, They gets away with spreading their message without ever identifying themselves. A social media post in bold print with a colorful background often appears official. If it is shared multiple times, the identity of the original poster may be lost, after which if will be attributed to They affording it all the credibility that They seems to have. Copied & pasted is another alias for They. Social media affords a platform to share an opinion. Some take advantage of that opportunity and actually spin original thoughts into something meaningful. Others seek out the writings of They and post it in their timeline, often attributing it to Copied & Pasted.

Many (you can substitute They) believe that our country is the most divided it has been since the Civil War. I’m not sure how to quantify that since I was born a century later. But it sure seems that division has worsened in my lifetime. From where I sit, They needs to be barred from any and all discussions about eliminating division and must be replaced by Us, We, and I.

Notes

Chief Gaylor: https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/107015/chief-master-sergeant-of-the-air-force-robert-d-gaylor/

https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Eaker-Center/FSA/

https://static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_cv/publication/afi36-2113/afi36-2113.pdf

https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/409718-analyst-says-the-us-is-the-most-divided-since-the-civl-war

Image from: https://www.workingmother.com/how-to-keep-holidays-peaceful-when-your-family-is-politically-divided

Originally published at https://chrisanthony.substack.com.

Retired veteran and civil servant with 37+ years of Federal service. Wannabe writer.

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