A Deeper Dive into Democracy

         In my recent blog post, I touched upon the idea of rhetoric and democracy. After reading more chapters in The History and Theory of Rhetoric, I think they have a much deeper connection than I first got into and therefore, would like to expand upon it to give it the attention it deserves.
         Rhetoric is what makes possible human social life and civilization. It allows for counter arguments and debates, structured communication, and persuasion that lead us to new points of views. Without it, life would be boring, monotone, and there would be no way to fight for what we believe in. Civilization without such aspects could not be called civilized at all. Rhetoric is what keeps us in control and without it, we would be a more prejudice and violent society. It is because of this idea that I believe the study and practice of rhetoric is necessary for democracy to exist.
         Herrick states, regarding rhetoric in Rome, that “ When democracy flourishes, so does rhetoric and its study. When democracy declines, rhetoric also declines as its role as the method of free public discourse is diminished” (110). According to Aristotle, one of the functions of rhetoric is that it allows for the free exchange of ideas. When situations arise where freedom of speech is taken away, the anger that follows is immense. Sharing our values and beliefs with others and choosing what to stand for is part of the foundation of democracy. It is an art of “investigation and expression” (72).  It is through debate and conversation that leads us to developing what we want from society.
         Knowing how to study rhetoric and speak effectively is very important when it comes to getting your point heard. Anyone can speak but you must know your audience in order to have people listen. For example, people have outlets like blogs that express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings, ect. If they are public, comments on the bottom of the post may be noticeable. Many blog commenters attack others when their views don’t match their own instead of speaking effectively. By hiding behind an anonymous face, people like this show their lack rhetorical knowledge and may be labeled as haters and have their comments ignored. On another note, one of the biggest controversies over gay marriage has continuously recruited more support and acknowledgement due to their effective protests, emotional influences, visible passion and most importantly, knowing how to reach their audience.
         Rhetoric shapes how we view the world around us. In turn, we choose different values and decide how to act upon them. Democracy gives us this opportunity of freedom of expression, but rhetoric provides us with the knowledge to exercise it. It’s important that the study of rhetoric is taken seriously, for it has the power to shape us all.


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