A while back I vowed to self-censure as far as writing about certain parental groups with which I am emmeshed goes, and where I couldn’t self-censure, having already shot off my mouth, I would redact, but yesterday I received an email which included this request: “Also, would you be willing to own this effort?” and if I can’t dissect that language here, where can I dissect it?
My kinder side won’t allow me to divulge the particulars of what exactly I’m being asked to own, and what owning of it might mean, but bear in mind that this discussion takes place on the periphery of the “educational experience” of children who are mostly too young to know whether they are being taught the ABCs in English or in Swahili. Also that agreeing to own anything at this place will mostly just put me in a world of pain and add at least 250 emails to my inbox… all before Christmas.
Asking me if I would own this effort is clearly a … veiled? coded? benign? more polite? … way of saying the much clearer “would you do this for me?”
So… why not just ask me to do it?
Because asking me to do it outright would require agency on the requestor’s part: “would you do this for me?” And the act of doing something for someone requires give-and-take, a favor asked and bestowed, a personal connection. Talking about ownership removes the requestor from the process entirely, and absolves them of any responsibility regarding it.
When I received this email, I had a brief Walter Mitty type moment when, more than anything, I wanted to respond: As someone who once contemplated joining the socialist party, I’m not all that big on ownership….
Or, maybe a better response would be: I would love to disown this effort.