I Knight Thee Sir Hot Dog
- “I take thee to be my wedded husband.”
- “I sentence you to five years’ hard labor in East Anglia.”
- “I knight thee.”
- “I do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of (state title) to the best of my ability.”
What do these statements have in common?
They have special force because, when spoken under the right conditions, in the right context, they are doing exactly what the words say. If you’re a judge (or ruler) who has jurisdiction over the person in question, when you say you’re sentencing someone, well, you are. They are going to East Anglia to work very, very hard.
On the other hand, if you’re a guy with a smashed-up Chevy in the middle of an intersection and you yell one of these statements at the hapless fellow who just smashed into you, none of these statements will have much force.
Nor will it if you’re on a Zoom call with a half-drowsy co-worker.
All the factors have to be in place. The roles and relationships have to be right. The power has to be right. The conditions and context have to be right.
These kinds of statements are when words are as real as can be. Just by saying it, you’re doing it: marrying, sentencing, swearing an oath, arresting someone, declaring war, adjourning a meeting, dedicating a song.
What a contrast with words that are just words until they’re backed up with appropriate acts!
I Can Get You a Great Price on a Used Car
“I worship you.”
“I will shovel the driveway.”
Or, as I’ve heard a few times in the past week, “I can get you the best deal on a used car.”
The saying of the words may or may not have a consonant relationship to reality. Saying I’ll shovel certainly isn’t the shoveling itself.
While I was inventing THE HUMAN JOURNEY®, a way to bring families into an experience of their profound belonging, rather than merely have them parrot words at each other, I was trying to get beyond “just stories,” or even the “just words” that we might say at a moment of intensity but which can disappear into the ether.
I wanted groups to experience the force and activeness of language — language they spoke, language they heard, and acts they performed while together, perhaps in crisis, in each other’s company.
Could they become more a family, more a support group, more a place of deep belonging in a lasting way, by something they took part in that was “over” in just a couple of hours?
Leading the THJ® Experience, our trained THJ® Conductors create the contexts and conditions for the existing relationships to take stronger hold and for what is heard, received, and said to have force that perdures. The facilitation method, combined with the innovative materials and experience design, brings families and support groups into an experience that has the force of a cultural ceremony, as powerful as a wedding or an oath-taking.
They are different afterwards. And the crisis they face becomes something they can handle – together.
Join us to learn to conduct THJ®. You’ll help families dealing with end of life, addiction, health or care transition, isolation, alienation, or crises of meaning.