Suggestions for U.S. Writers

Taken from a discussion on the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

The RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change has over five hundred subscribers, and about a third of them are not USers. We USers should keep in mind that many people on the list may not be aware of the events we are writing about and that many readers’ first language is not English.

USer distress recordings often make us forget that we are writing for an international audience. Discharging on these recordings and acting against them are an important part of our re-emergence. Here are some suggestions for USers to make this list more inclusive of people from outside the United States:

  • Briefly explain the background and context of what you are writing about.
  • Refer to U.S. events and people as U.S. events and people. (For example, write “the U.S. election” or “the U.S. president” instead of “the election” or “the president”; write “the United States” instead of “our country.”)
  • Avoid the use of slang (for example, “cool,” “awesome,” “chill”); sayings (for example, “that’s in the in right ballpark” to mean “that is close”); and abbreviations (for example, of the names of states or organizations).
  • Before sending your e-mail, read what you’ve written to a friend or Co-Counselor while thinking about what difficulties it might cause a person whose first language is not English and who is not familiar with the events you are writing about.

We would love comments and feedback, especially from people outside the United States. We want people born and raised outside the United States to respond first. We ask that USers wait two weeks to respond.

Terry Fletcher
Berkeley, California, USA
and Julian Weissglass
Santa Barbara, California, USA

 

(I was born and raised outside the United States but have lived in the United States for many years, so I say “we” and “us” about both groups.)

These are excellent suggestions.

I suggest that in addition to thinking about the difficulties a post could pose for an international audience, we also discharge on how we imagine it could be useful to them. U.S. distress patterns can make us assume that what happens in the United States is more important than what happens in other places, and that everyone should know about us while we don’t need to know about them. Conditions in the United States, and the ways we learn to use RC to change them, are exactly as important as conditions and how people use RC in every other part of the world, no less and no more.

Another pattern, not unique to USers, is to speak or write because of how it makes us feel, rather than for what effect it will have. Self-expression is good, and it is also different from thinking strategically about moving our project forward. What I mean by strategic is doing something because of how it will help build toward a goal that is important to us more than for how it makes us feel in the moment. We don’t need to be too modest. Our personal stories of re-emergence can have great meaning for other people. But I think it would be especially useful for USers to imagine people in many countries reading every word we write and to ask in Co-Counseling sessions, “How will my words be useful to our global community?” As a non-USer, it would be a good contradiction* for me for U.S. writers to ask in their posts for feedback from the rest of us: “How does this thinking or issue affect your people? How are conditions similar or different in your countries?” This would make it clear that we are all in a global conversation.

Thank you for thinking about this.

Aurora Levins Morales
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

This is a very good initiative, great USers! I would like to add two suggestions:

  1. Make your e-mails shorter.
  2. Make shorter sentences.

Marijke Wilmans
Groningen, the Netherlands


* Contradiction to distress


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00