Throughout many group conversations I have found myself always balking at the haphazard and thinkless use of “they.” “They say that people that hold their mobile phones to their ear are likely to get brain cancer?” But who is “they” and based on what research?
My instructor at Warrior Leader Course (WLC) cut off a soldier in his class in mid-speech by asking him who is “they?” To which the soldier replied with, “I don’t know.” If one does not know who they is, then who is really being referenced and how does one have anything to say about “they?”
The instructor sharply snapped backed with another question now addressed to him and the class. “What is the number one terrorist organization in the world?” All of us were silent and stomped by his question. I can think of two organizations like Hamas or Hezbollah now, but I went blank at the time. He scoffed but then reserved, he plainly stated that “The number one terorrist organization in the world is ‘they.’ If we do not know who ‘they’ is, then ‘they’ are the enemy, and should be rounded up and prosecuted.”
Interesting isn’t it? His words seemed to come across in a revelatory way that I immediately filed them in the “Army Wisdom” folder of my mind for future use. And from that day forth I have made it a point to think more before I speak, but also ensure I know about whom I am referring with specifics. Otherwise, my answer is that I do not know, but I will find out and get back to you. Broad brushstroke statements just do not hold water in the Army or in any professional capacity for that matter, assuming one wants to demonstrate having done diligence to knowing as opposed to guessing.