Wow. Imagine what one simple post can do. (It doesn’t hurt either when fellow Orthodox Christian and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers Michael Hyatt, Tweets on your post – suggesting that his massive tribe read it.) But in the course of two days over 1,000 people visited and viewed my post “Socialism or Constitutionalism“. To those who came thanks, to those who read the entire post, thank you, thank you, and to those who read very little and left angry diatribes towards me and my ancestors – it’s OK, in America we can speak freely, at least for now. But this is what started me thinking. Why did so many unleash with vicious attacks against me, and not against the thoughts that I offered? Why did they spew, loudly, and with great disdain, and then exit ( a kind of hit and run dialog) and offer very little substance and content to refute what I wrote? Hmmm?
Perhaps it’s because we (Western Culture) have lost (or perhaps never had) the fine art of presenting, and defending a coherent argument in a civil way using the Classical Model of learning – Trivium.
What started out as a simple and quite humble post about how it appears (I’ll be generous and magnanimous here) our Government is becoming more socialistic (i.e. Increased Government supported handouts/bailouts funded by proposed and real raising of Tax rates in order that our money can help someone else, instead of them helping themselves) I know. Someone will argue with my definition, but aside from all the legalese and expounding of “you don’t know what you are talking about…” I will freely admit that I am not an expert. Just a slightly above average citizen who can do research, read, who loves his country and his heritage, and wants the Constitution to reign supreme again, so that our children will inherit a country that is truly the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
One thing that I am doing (and it really came home to me after reading so many comments), is to rediscover again the Art and Craft of writing and speaking, and holding forth a point of view with intelligence and kindness – in short I’m hot on the trail of a : Trivium Pursuit! No, not Trivial pursuit, but Trivium, as in Classical Education. The very education and timeless philosophy that enabled Thomas Paine, John Locke, John Burke, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and others to stand in a civil manner and put forth clearly articulated, masterfully elucidated and tremendously persuasive political and virtuous ideas in both spoken and written formats.
Trivium. From the Latin “tri” meaning three, and “via” meaning way, the three-fold way of learning that enables and empowers anyone to think, reason, put forth a clear, compelling and well done point of view without attacking, slandering, name calling or quitting.
The first stage of Classical Education is Grammar: in other words learn and memorize the facts, the basics, the statistical and objective data and truths of whatever subject you are wanting to study. The second stage is Logic: once armed with facts you begin to ask “Does this make sense?” “Is it reasonable?” “Is it logical? “How does it stack up with all reasonable and historical thought?”
Finally, the third stage “Rhetoric“. The ability and skill in artfully and civilly expounding a point of view that is yours, in such a detailed and well thought way, such that it does not demean, defame, or slander a person or even ultimately, their point of view. This ability to gather information, to think about it logically, and then to offer a well crafted and well thought thesis to a person or a group of people is a lost art today.
As for me, as of today, I’m on a Trivium Pursuit, and intend to work and to emulate our Founders in both their ability to think, reason, and debate in an artful, decisive and thoughtful way for the rest of my life.
I want to understand the ideas, thoughts, statistics, data, trends and truths of what is happening in our culture. Armed with knowledge and fact, I want to think logically, carefully, thoughtfully about it. “Is this true?” If it is, what are its implications? Etc. Finally, I want to discuss and put forth on this blog, on the streets, and anywhere I am… a clear, cogent, intelligent and kind POV that is called “rhetoric” in the way it was meant to be understood.
Want to join me? What if our country armed itself first with facts and knowledge, and then thought, reasoned, spoke, and acted with moral, and virtuous logic, and then in engaged in the heritage of our founding fathers, in the impassioned but civil great debates that gave birth to this nation. Sounds awesome to me.
It’s simple. But hard. Necesary, but good.
Learn before I speak. Consider before I write. Articulate a thoughtful and compelling point of view, and when it requires passion and vigor… do not condemn the person, or their title or office, just the idea that they are espousing. In short, attack their rhetoric and not their personhood.
Grace and Peace.
PS And to the over 1,000 visitors, and the many who left impassioned thoughts as replies, thank you for you civil and kind challenges to my POV.