If Everyone Would Just Stop Starting Sentences With “If Everyone Would Just …”

I know this is an exercise in pointless recursion, but I’d like to suggest something to you if you’re writing a Facebook entry, a blog post or a YouTube comment. This might even apply in your everyday conversation.1

Don’t start any sentence with “If everyone would just …” Ever. If you accidentally start one that way, just stop. Better to be perceived as absent-minded or a fool than to finish the sentence.

Why? Because it’s not going to happen.

Turtles all the way down
Some know how to handle recursion.

We’re never ALL going to think or do any one thing in just one way. Not if we have any choice in the matter. Gravity will always win out because we have no choice over it. The earth will continue to spin on its axis whether we’re here or not. Things that happen following the words “Hey! Watch this!” will seldom work out as intended. Everything else? A crapshoot.

I think it’s an occupational hazard of being human that you fantasize how great everything would be if everyone just thought and felt about things the way you do. I catch myself doing it all the time. Then it occurs to me that a world where everyone thought and felt as I did about things would be

  1. Anti-social.
  2. Boring as hell.
  3. Utterly devoid of peas, which would probably create some gap in the biosphere that would lead to total ecosystem collapse.

Then I remember that it’s not ever going to happen. Like being President, or an astronaut or understanding the appeal of Lord of the Rings. There are things you’re just better of accepting and moving on with. I’m glad we have astronauts. I wish the job of President attracted fewer war criminals, but what’s an oligarchic military-industrial complex going to do? And while I could never get into LOTR, I think the world is an objectively better place because there are people who really love it. Think about it for a minute.  What would those people do with even more free time? Tolkien did us all a favor.

Again, I understand that I’m sitting here writing about how everyone shouldn’t say things like “everyone shouldn’t say” things. My only defense is that I have no illusion that it’s ever going to happen.  If even one person heeds my words then … wow. I’m surprised. What’s wrong with you?  You take life advice from some guy on the Internet? What are you thinking?

And while we’re at it, there’s a related thing. Don’t tell someone they’re “doing it wrong.”

They’re not.

They’re just not doing it for you.


1 OK, scratch YouTube. If you’re leaving comments on YouTube there is no hope for you.