To craft a compelling paper takes time, patience, and a lot of wine. Or is that how one crafts a well-rounded argument with another person? Perhaps they are bedmates in the grand scheme of things. I have learned the value of research and analyzing the world around me. Still, I would never consider myself a scholar on any one subject. Technology and discovery changes and evolves. The grey matter betwixt our ears scrambles to keep up. In that, ‘question everything’ has become my mantra. In this day of fake news and people who have lost the art of critical thinking, I have to find different perspectives. Is one source the definitive answer or there other points of view to bring more clarity to the subject? The elements of the rhetorical situation are a solid basis for most writing. This I know well—even fear to some point. Each generation has a new landscape to travel. Each person has the ability to change history for the better or worse. To question the treasure map thrust into their hands. Whether Google or the local library, the chance to learn and continue learning is at their fingertips—should they chose to do so.
We have rules in scholarly writing, however. For example, the format of main point, three sub points, and summary brought back the horrors of keyhole layout during my misspent high school years. I languished for hours trying to come up with three simple elements to state my case. All the research in the world on my subject matter did nothing to belay the deep-seed fears that form of writing brought me. I scoffed and tried to reassure my freaked-out mind that this was a cake walk and all I needed to do was put pen to paper. Nothing is as easy as that or we’d all be laureates out of kindergarten. Part of me still wants to practice the art of the master thespian and explain the woes of writing to the wanderer passing by my door. Please! I plead unto thee! Shake me from this foul beast that dost to claw at my wits! The fact remains that I and I alone have to complete the task and bury the fear behind the wood shed.
My mood lightened as I dug deeper into rhetorical analysis when a familiar friend jumped from the pages to assure me that I hadn’t lost all hope. The essential ‘who, what, where, how, and why’ are a cornerstone, in my opinion, to all types of writing. Perhaps these words stuck out in my mind because I remember them vividly from my English teachers in high school. Those formative years weren’t all a ball of emo misery after all. I relied on those five words for my professional writing. They shined like a beacon in my dark abyss. Sometimes when I’m mired in my mind as it goes off like a cat in a field of butterflies, they are the compass that steers me back on course. So I connected with this fundamental design. Come to me, my darlings, and we shall conquer all.
I realized another important element: Debating is an art form. It can transcend into a mutual respect yet not quite for the resolution of the argument. It could also delve into the madding depths of crass name-calling or alternate facts. The story of the senator and the parent comes to mind from chapter two of Everything You Need to Know about College Writing. The exigence of the situation is the senator touting the merits of going to war. A parent, who has lost a child to this purgatory road, could use an emotional plea to persuade this public official into seeing the tragedy that comes along with his decision. On the other side, the parent could attack his character and perhaps the fact that the cost of life has no bearing on his corrupt soul. One is of reason, one is of heartbreaking emotion. Neither could sway. With that in mind when I searched for something current to base my rhetorical triangle on, I chose a subject that I had read about before. The difference this time was that I picked an article written by someone well-versed in law. I wanted that deeper understanding beyond reading the sterile jargon of the emolument clause I had previously encountered. Zephyr Teachout brought out the human element, along with the sorted history that birthed the clause, in her article in the Washington post titled Trump is getting payments from foreign governments. We have no idea what they are.
With reaffirmed knowledge at hand, I can move forward with this course and the ones to come. There will always be another perspective to our notions. I feel it’s our duty to quest for them. No matter what my accomplishments may be, I am not beyond my capacity to learn. The years do not make us wiser nor does the mileage. I wouldn’t be seeking my degree after all these years if I thought so. Analyze why someone might be striking out on the path they choose or what they could be seeking. Engage for a deeper understanding. How we craft our words will be the way we argue our points—whether in paper form or verbally. The phrase ‘knowledge is power’ only equates if we choose our words carefully and not allow our emotions to rollercoaster. Life has no shortage of doubts and forks in the road. The more we observe, the more the art of persuasion can influence our thinking. We’re mere pups when we come out of high school with big ideals and aspirations. The world is our ocean and we the pirates to plunder it. Question everything.