Wendy Ni

Honors 230 – Final Paper
There are two main kinds of societies in this world: civil versus despotic. A civil society is
the basic democracy: a political order based on the voices of the people living there. Decisions
are made and representatives are elected by a vote so that there is consensus about the action
of the government on the lives of its people. On the other hand, a despotic society is the classic
dictatorship: one man holds all the power in government and can do anything he so pleases. His
power is maintained through coercion and violence against anyone that threatens to weaken his
power. In the eyes of Lincoln, despotism is when one man governs another without that other’s
consent. I can claim with confidence that the majority consensus is to create the first kind: a
democratic society.
A democracy is a rather complicated matter that involves examination from multiple
perspectives and deconstructed piece by piece. The major themes that will be dissected and
examined here include: a more thoughtful public, schooling, and of course leadership. These are
all heavily dependent on each other in that one directly impacts another and cycles into what
we characterize as “democracy”. Why would we want a democracy? The fact is that a
democracy leads to a creation of a more thoughtful public where people can live in conditions
of freedom to pursue their life of comfort and happiness. A democracy then requires a leader to
oversee all the components fall into place and schools to sustain its conditions for ongoing
prosperity.
One of the main goals of leadership is to not only create, but also sustain a more
thoughtful public. It is only when people agree (if not completely agree, at least not revolt) can
anything be done. A thoughtful public differs from a persuaded audience in principle and is also
the more favorable one in the dichotomy. Here is a discussion of their differences, explanation
as to why the former is better than the latter, the environment needed to create a more
thoughtful public, and how to sustain it in the long run.
At its base, leaders create a persuaded audience to carry out any sort of action, but as
the name suggests, a persuaded audience is dependent and relies on just receiving information
from the leader. “Audience” suggests that these people are only absorbing information and are
quick to accept what they hear as true without filtering or challenging what they are told. A
persuaded audience is also passive; they allow information to come to them instead of actively
seeking it out from multiple sources. Persuaded audiences are mostly found in autocratic
societies where authority is built on fear for immediate cooperation towards achieving short
term goals.
A thoughtful public on the other hand, is independent and capable of thriving on its own
without constant guidance. The difference with this group of people is that they use critical
thinking to constantly critique the veracity of what they hear. The “thoughtful” is from the fact
that there is much consideration about not only the motives and implications of an event, but
also evaluation of the impact it will have. A thoughtful public is an active seeker of information
and is indiscriminative as it goes about that. Only a democratic society can have a thoughtful
public as the main goal is working long-term towards the well-being of the future.
Wendy Ni
Honors 230 – Final Paper
Why is a thoughtful public better than a persuaded audience? It may not be, depending
on the values and beliefs of the leader and the public itself. However, if we make the connection
that a thoughtful public leads to a democracy while a persuaded audience leads to an autocracy,
then my choice of the preferred political regime would be decided in a heartbeat. The fact is,
although there are flaws with how a democratic nation (like America) functions, people here are
free of oppression and have purpose in their lives. Their lives are enhanced beyond the primal
levels of survival and are characterized by the drive to move up the social ladder. In an
autocratic society, such as the modern day North Korea, people live in horrid conditions of
oppression and misery. These people are constantly worried about their next meal or the
possibility of seeing tomorrow’s sunrise to be at all concerned with higher level thinking. It is
fair to say that the people determine the kind of leader; essentially, we get the leaders we
deserve.
To create a thoughtful public requires that these conditions for democracy are secured.
Both Soder and Dahl have explained these conditions in Developing Democratic Character in the
Young, but the five I am highlighting here: trust, free and open inquiry, citizen participation,
tension between order and freedom, and responsibility, are what I find to be the most
important for the basis of a civil society.
Trust is difficult enough within interpersonal relationships let alone between a leader
and his people; however, it is required of a thoughtful public to put their faith in the democratic
system. The principles that our Founding Fathers established this nation upon have been in
place for over two hundred years now. Many people find our democratic system of the electoral
college, political parties, and congressional representation to be majorly flawed, but we must
remember that they have been designed that way with a specific intent in mind. These ideas
may be beyond the scope of our understanding, but nonetheless, we should respect our past
and current leaders and trust that they have our best interests in mind. Not only do we need
trust, but also respect for our leader: maintaining a side-to-side relationship rather than one
that is up-and-down. Trust and respect is one of the main reasons for people to obey their laws.
When people obey laws, we have social structure and order that continues to foster the
relationship between government and people. Instead of obeying orders because that’s what
we are told, we must work together to solve the issues at hand.
The next component of a civil society is the ability to inquire openly and freely. The
public must be able to know what the government is doing at any point in time to ensure that
the policies are reflecting the needs of the collective people. People need to be able to and have
access to the outlets to not only express how they feel, but also feel safe from the threat of
persecution for what they believe in. Unlike a civil society, a despotic society censors and
modifies all information before it reaches the people to turn the “facts” towards their own
favor. Public opinion is important in that reciprocating information allows everyone to be on the
same page about the goals of the society. Citizens can raise their dissents so leaders can modify
their plan; the both are necessary to create a life of comfort for all. In the mind of the leader, a
program may be perfect and solve the problems of the people, but since the people are directly
affected by the policies, only they can evaluate its effectiveness. At the same time, if the people
want change, they must seek it out themselves otherwise, leaders will be completely
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Honors 230 – Final Paper
uninformed about actuality. When people are complacent and can only sit and complain rather
than taking action, then their unhappiness is well deserved.
Citizens also need to be an active participant in their political process as their actions
directly impact the type of leader that will fall into power. A civil society must grant its people
suffrage so the outlook of their lives is in their own hands. Citizens must feel a sense of self-
efficacy so they not only vote, but feel like their vote has the power to make a difference.
Participation is discouraged when people have a lack of care or they feel that the issues do not
concern their lives. Nonetheless, since the leader reflects what the people desire, the wishes of
the majority will be enacted into policy. In actuality, we hold more power than we perceive.
People must not be fearful of challenging the authority of the leader; they must also carry out
the orders, not with blind submission, but with careful consideration and then diligence. If
leaders are chosen arbitrarily, then power is concentrated into one person rather than
dissipated across the board. When that happens, the temptation for abuse becomes present
everywhere.
Continuing, there is a need for tension between order and freedom. The role of the
leader is to establish rules that govern the society (order) and then foster an environment
where people can exercise their rights (freedom). These rules are the laws based on the
collective values held by the people and there will need to be a system of facilitation in place to
make sure that laws are being carried out (police and justice system). Order is important as
people will be motivated by avarice unless otherwise restrained by a higher authority. However,
when the balance tips too far towards order, we essentially have a dictator as people’s freedoms
are limited and choice is constrained. On the flip side, when we have too much freedom, our
societal structures will fall into chaos. As everyone is permitted to do whatever they please,
some people will act on destructive behaviors towards each other. Laws should reflect the
overall values of the people which is why it is essential that our lawmakers are chosen by our
vote. When laws reflect our own moral laws and we are restrained by the fear of punishment
and judgement, that is when we will follow the guidelines laid down by our government.
The last condition involves responsibility: citizens must be given roles and functions as a
member of this democratic regime to feel valuable and worthy of existence. Democracies rely
on a two-way response-feedback system to operate and improve. People should be given the
right to choose the leaders that affect their lives, voice their opinion to the world, and pursue
their happiness within bounds of the law. There is a common notion that the world is always
scarce of resources and people need to be in constant competition to fight for their share. For
example, throughout history, White Americans have always felt a scarcity of employment
opportunities and that a certain minority group is threatening their financial stability. First it was
the African slaves, then it was the Chinese railroad laborers, then it became the Mexican menial
workers, and now it is the outsourcing of companies to third world countries. This idea is one of
the factors that contributed to the discrimination and the unfair treatment of minority groups. A
democracy must value each person equally and they must self-recognize their role in this
interdependent ecosystem. Citizens should all have the same rights and freedoms regardless of
their race, socioeconomic status, or gender because they all have a part to play in our society.
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Honors 230 – Final Paper
Even the small roles are significant seeing as there cannot be someone on top without others
below to support him.
Creating a more thoughtful public is easy, but to sustain it and rebuild it once it falls
apart is the challenge that only gets harder with time. In a sense, a more thoughtful public lives
for as long as language lives. George Orwell explains more in depth about this in his essay titled
Politics and the English Language. Orwell stressed the connection between the two and how
important it was for language to be specific. Especially in modern day politics, a lot of what
politicians say is cluttered with euphemisms, jargons, pretentious diction, and just plain vague
words. The complicated language is meant to conceal the true underlying message. It
overwhelms the public to make them discouraged from listening; therefore, since knowledge
leads to capability, their power is being taken away slowly. When words start losing their
meaning, what we say then becomes valueless. Meaningless words mean that their definitions
are constantly changing to fit whatever context. Without rigidity, truths are no longer truths.
This case is in fact more dangerous than a leader that flat out just lies. At the very least, lies give
us a general direction for where truth is supposed to be. With a dead language, we come into
doubt as to whether truth still exists. Preserving language is one of the monumental steps in
preserving a more thoughtful public.
Democracies also need to constantly have the goal of improvement in mind. Otherwise,
there is an entirely different kind of despotism characterized by Tocqueville in his Democracy in
America. When people fall into a comfortable complacently and remain satisfied with the
conditions, they begin to become lazy. This kind of government makes their citizens obedient
and numb from wanting to make any sort of change. Oppressing the physical body is not nearly
as dangerous as oppressing the mind. When we are adapted to the notion of “freedom” is
exactly when the government begins to control all aspects of that person’s life. Human beings
are different in every single aspect. When we try to push for the notion of equality in a financial
sense, but we neglect the differences in social status, intelligence, or physicality. In fact, by
making everyone equal is just creating greater inequalities. People are then blind to this
phenomenon because their lives are ongoing thinking that their lives are in a great place when
it really is not. Nothing is done because people’s perceptions is different from the actuality of
the situation.
Most importantly, I want to emphasize the fact that a thoughtful public must require its
citizens to be educated seeing that education is the most significant way to sustain a democracy
and therefore a more thoughtful public. Schooling is important not in just the literature,
mathematics, and science sense, but also how people come to be aware of their democratic
rights. Just like how we can never recognize the delight of sweet without the unpleasantness of
bitter, without knowledge of our rights, we lose the capacity to exercise them. We do not
understand the power of our words until we are silenced and stripped of our right to free
speech, which by then we have already suffered injustice and oppression. Schools, therefore are
required of a functioning democracy.
How knowledge is obtained is unlimited and different per the context. There are three
different types of learning: education, schooling, and enlightenment, each with their distinctive
characteristics. Anything less than all three of the characteristics is a persuaded audience rather
Wendy Ni
Honors 230 – Final Paper
than a more thoughtful public. Enlightenment, the last element, is the most important to a
more thoughtful public, so its individual components will be further analyzed here.
Education is more of an umbrella term for all kinds of knowledge acquisition that occurs.
It also has no boundaries on context: it can occur anywhere from learning how to read facial
cues, to the public transportation routes, or events in the news. In this sense, education is
necessary for the most basic kinds of survival. Not everyone may be educated with formal
schooling, but everyone is educated in that they have gathered the knowledge they need to live.
At the lowest level, the knowledge of food, danger, love: knowing what neighborhoods to avoid
walking through at night and how to cook a proper meal is the bare minimum of human
existence. Because our tendency to want to live is so ingrained in our nature, a lot of this kind of
learning happens involuntary: such as the biological tendency to prefer sweet and reject bitter
or subliminal ability to adapt to the environment like knowing to layer up when the weather is
cold. Education is commonplace even in the absence of formal education.
Schooling: schools are built for the purposes of teaching knowledge and skills to allow
students to survive in the real world. Subjects like writing or calculus are more conceptual
knowledge that helps make sense of the world in facts or equations. Schooling is necessary for
an individual to grasp and maneuver the direction of their own life. This kind of learning takes
place in schools where teaching and learning are generally one-sided transactions and teacher-
student relationships are in place. Schooling differs from education in that it seeks to enhance
life rather than just maintain it. High school is for the purposes of entering college;
undergraduate is for the purposes of graduate or medical or law school. All of this leads up to
when we can live every day of the rest of our lives in satisfaction: whether that be from wealth
or passion from a career.
Enlightenment is a higher level of thinking that involves analyzing evidence, evaluating
costs and value, and considering the effects of a single event. It is by a process aiming to reach
self-actualization that requires critical thinking beyond the scopes of just mere education or
schooling. It is this kind of wisdom that allows us to progress as a race and forces us to ask the
question: “If then… so what?” Enlightened people by result are self-sufficient, self-competent,
and are more active in policy making and voicing their opinions because they understand that
they can make an impact. Enlightenment is dangerous to a despotic society as people will come
to realize the ugly truths that its leader is trying to keep in the dark as soon as they think about
the inconsistencies of their lives. On the other hand, it is exactly this kind of thinking that
continues to sustain a democracy because it keeps the leaders in check from abusing their
power.
Enlightenment is a complex nature and since it leads to a more thoughtful public,
schools need to teach their students how to think. These are more than just the values and
beliefs held by our nation, but rather skills that allows us to be more active in its reformation. A
thoughtful public seeks to understand, rather than have all the answers to the problems. It is
only when we have a nation of critical thinkers can we have a more thoughtful public.
There are many components of enlightened thinking with the first being an idea that
was explored in Steward Brand’s Clock of the Long Now: thinking about the long term. This way
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Honors 230 – Final Paper
of thinking is more beneficial than just considering the immediate because only thinking about
the scope of our lifetime limits the duration of our society. The way Brand explained it was that
we want this society to remain as an “infinite game” where it can be sustained and continued
even after our lives. When the public thinks merely about today, they are only avoiding the
problem until it ultimately becomes beyond their capacity to confine and resolve. Climate
change is the best example of this. It is an issue we know we have to deal with, yet many people
still reject the validity of its existence. Our actions today directly impact the lives of our
grandchildren and the generations after, but we are not doing nearly enough today compared to
what we should. A thoughtful public would recognize that and make every choice based on the
best interest of the generations after rather than choosing instant and ephemeral gratification
to themselves.
Another aspect of a thoughtful public is the ability to be patient when expecting results
and as we go about gathering the resources to make an informed decision. In the fast-paced
society we live in today of fast food, technology, and trends, we want the least effort and the
fastest means to the end. Most of public policy though, requires time to take root and to
implement themselves, and as a society, we must not be quick to criticize our leaders for our
impatience to see the plans carry out. Then, patience is required when trying to gather all the
information necessary before taking a possible course of action. There are multiple sources,
perspectives, and impacts for a simple piece of information, so a thoughtful public would need
to take the time to not only have a comprehensive, but also a multi-faceted understanding of
the issue. Patience is a virtue; it is much easier said than done.
A thoughtful public must place the well-being of the collective above merely their own
self-interest. They must understand their role as citizens of this society and abide by the social
rules and standards even if they are undesirable. The example here is paying taxes. Taxes are
essential for the functioning of our government to protect and care for their citizens, but people
often make the paradoxical complaint that taxes are too high while programs are underfunded.
The first directly impacts the second so when people want to receive more governmental
assistance, they must pay that price. A thoughtful public will also recognize that failure to
contribute their part in the democratic system causes consequences affecting everyone. In this
case, if one chooses not to pay their taxes, there will be many others that do the same. This
means that taxes will be raised across the board or that certain programs will be dissolved.
Other than the tension between order and freedom, there are others we must recognize
such as the tension between having leaders educate us versus us educating our leaders. There
needs to be a feedback system in place that allows a delicate balance to be put in place. When
we only allow our leaders to educate us, then we are mindlessly taking in information and
accepting everything that is said like a persuaded audience. When our leaders are our only
source of information, we are only seeing one perspective and gaining access to limited
information. In this case, if the only person we hear from is our leader, the presumption can be
made that freedom of speech is restrained if there are no other dissenting voices. We cannot
only seek truth and direction from only one source.
One way to understand the difference between the three principles is by making an
analogy to the different types of students in high school. Education is like the student that aims
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Honors 230 – Final Paper
to receive at least a D in all his classes because it is all that is required of him to pass. Schooling
would be the student that aims to have straight A’s because it would benefit him in the long run
when applying to college, internships, and his major. Lastly, enlightenment is the student that
does not care about grades, but rather learns for the sake of learning. Most students in this
world are D students; very few can be intrinsically motivated to seek knowledge.
Evidently, schools have a big role to play on the part of a more thoughtful public. There
can be arguments to be made that citizenship should be taught in other settings such as the
home or by other institutions such as the church. The fact is that compulsory education is the
last thing that the youth have in common before adulthood. Teaching in the home is harder to
standardize and allowing churches to teach defeats the Founding Father’s goal of a secularized
government. In school, students should not be forced to just learn about government or
American history, but to be taught the values of our nation such as free speech, free expression,
and patriotism; it is here that they can learn about their civic duties. With a band of able and
passionate teachers and a sound curriculum, schools are how we can sustain a more thoughtful
public.
An example of how schools should teach is distinguishing between “bringing Machiavelli
to you” versus “bringing you to Machiavelli”. “Bringing Machiavelli to you” is giving
interpretations directly and results in a persuaded audience while “bring you to Machiavelli” is
allowing the student to derive the meaning himself which leads to a more thoughtful public. If
we continuously give the answers to students, they become conditioned to expect the answer
handed to them. These students become the adults that accepts anything and everything they
hear without question or fact-checking. Instead, if we allow students to struggle at interpreting
their own meaning, then the skills of critical thinking will develop. They will learn to gather
information from many sources, cross reference what they hear, and take the responsibility of
acquiring knowledge into their own hands.
In this bigger picture, the role of the leader is to endorse the education system of his
nation. It is a common understanding within the political arena that budget is policy. Since
schools play such an important role to society, they must continually be funded to allow them to
operate. Leaders must ensure that education receives the financial backing that it requires.
Then, there are the teachers that directly educate the youth. We need nothing less than the
best teachers who are truly passionate in the democratic values that they teach. A leader needs
to make sure only the most competent teachers are in schools and securing their positions
there. There are then people like Bill Mester of the Snohomish School District who work their
entire lives to try and improve the local school system. He wants to create students that aim to
become whole and complete people rather than those that are driven by materialistic
processions or status. We need more people like him who fight for education and we need to
support people like him so progress can be made.
From my perspective, a leader’s purpose is simply overseeing the public: resolving
problems and offering guidance as the context sees fit. A thoughtful public is self-sustaining and
in a perfect world, a leader simply needs to secure the conditions that allow it to maintain itself.
It allows humans to advance themselves and help us find things such as success, happiness, and
comfort. It is these values that make living valuable and worthy of continuation. A persuaded
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audience relies too heavily on the leader to the point that when he is out of the picture, all
order is rendered null and chaos dooms the nation. Living in an autocratic regime, life is void of
choice and thought: the two elements that distinguish us from mere animals. Living under those
conditions would be miserable, mundane, and too preoccupied with survival to reach the higher
levels of self-actualization.
In the grand scheme of things, a leader has a crucial role in establishing authority to
carry the conditions that can secure a more thoughtful public. For a leader to go about
accomplishing any kind of task, he needs to first needs to be able to gather information and
effectively persuade the public of its benefits. Gathering information is a rather complicated
matter as there are many considerations to make about methods and ethics.
To effectively seek information, the leader must have an understanding about who to
inquire and how he maneuvers around to find out what he needs to know. According to
Machiavelli, counsel is perhaps one of the most important choices for a leader to make since his
counsel directly reflects himself. Leaders must choose to surround himself with people who are
honest and faithful to him rather than flatters that only say what they think their leaders wants
to hear. It is important for a leader to use his counsel, but if a leader takes advice from
everyone, he will end up losing respect from his followers as he seems too open to influence
and does not hold his stance firm enough. Machiavelli also states that counsel should be
referred to on a one-to-one basis rather than from a collective unit to get the most veritable and
authentic advice free from influence of the group. Francis Bacon echoes the same message
about the importance of advisors and adds on that a leader is no less competent for seeking
advice from others if these people are of good nature. Leaders also need to know when to
withhold information to be careful about revealing their intentions. Sharing information reduces
its confidentiality so leaders need to either be highly selective about who he can share
information with or be highly selective about what kind of information he shares. Allowing
others to know too much can make a leader more vulnerable; therefore, weakening his power
as it corners him with limited options.
A leader must also consider the precautions and implications of seeking information. By
asking a simple question suggests two things: that the leader is searching for the details and
that the person being asked has what he wants to know. Once that information is obtained,
more responsibility accumulates; when one holds information, one is expected to take a course
of action. There is a common cliché known as “ignorance is bliss”. The reason being that when
one does not know, one will not be plagued with worry. In cases of conflict or inability, knowing
something and not being able to do anything about it, causes a tremendous amount of guilt and
feelings of being incapacitated. Another implication is that how someone goes about seeking
information not only speaks to his character, but also the character of respondent. A rather
simple, but clear example of this that I am particularly fond of is found in Soder’s Language of
Leadership of when a child asks as to why he should love his grandma. If the answer is that you
should love your grandma because she will leave you a lot of money when she dies, it suggests
that you yourself is materialistic and that you believe the child would share that same outlook.
However, if your answer is that you should love your grandma because she is your grandma,
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then suddenly, a whole different value is expressed. In this case then, standards of correct
behavior are backed by principles of a higher moral ground.
To know the means to use when going about acquiring information is not enough, there
also needs to be an understanding of how the audience will respond which will require then a
comprehensive knowledge about human nature. To effectively persuade someone requires a
grasp on what that person’s motivations and values are and using the most practical means to
achieve the desired goal. People generally viewed negatively like through the lens of Machiavelli
or seen in a more optimistic view as humans of improvement and worth.
From a Machiavellian perspective, humans are then seen as naturally greedy and ill
willed. To persuade this group of people will require the leader to manipulate the scenario to
appeal to the greatest potential payoff in their favor. Machiavelli has said that “men will always
turn bad for you unless they have been made good by necessity”, suggesting that men are only
driven by their own self-interest and the only way to keep them under restraint is to hold power
over them. The approaches used here are more of a mutual tradeoff of benefits so both can
politically or financially advance or using a tactic of authority to push the people in doing what
you want them to. Using the example of a workplace, if the supervisor has this Machiavellian
outlook, he will be more of an authoritative figure and may be seen by the others as
intimidating and assertive. To get work done then requires threat of superior status or social
acceptance.
When a leader sees people in a humanistic manner, he believes that people are driven
by the need for self-improvement and that extrinsic motivators are not quite as effective as
appealing to reason. He would believe that humans naturally want to improve themselves and
are motivated intrinsically to see that happening. A leader then can make the reasonable
assumption then that sustaining an environment of comfort will allow people to work hard
themselves to get the task accomplished. Using the same workplace example, this other kind of
leader will focus on being more compatible and delegates tasks rather than forcing them upon
others. He would foster cooperation and allowing his workers to make their own decisions in
ways that make them enjoy working such as choosing their own hours or allowing to work from
home as long as they accomplish what is required.
According to psychology, people are also highly motivated to be socially accepted by the
group. This need to “fit-in” is sometimes enough to make people do what you want them to.
There is are many famous psychological experiments on conformity with the most notable one
being an experiment conducted by Solomon Asch. In this experiment, a participant with a few
other confederates were told to examine a set of three lines that were of obvious varied
lengths. A new line was shown and each person was asked to identify one of the three lines that
matched the length of this new line. The results from this experiment were quite astounding. It
turns out when the confederates were told to give the wrong response, even though the correct
answer was evident, for most of the participants, they conformed to the answer of the group.
Conformity is just one other way of examining how people behave. With a more well-rounded
knowledge, a leader is then more capable of getting people to do what he wants.
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How people are motivated is only one side of human nature. There is another
observation from the Grand Inquisitor that delves into another aspect of human nature. The
question here is: “Do people want to be told what to do or have the freedom to decide for
themselves?” Which is more important here: freedom or security? On one hand, submitting to
the will of another relieves one of all responsibility and thought in exchange for comfort and
security. The Grand Inquisitor believes that man is unable to choose salvation given the free will
because the miseries of living forces him to be tempted to sinning. Rather than placing the
burden of choice onto man, taking the decision out of his hand allows him to live happily. On
the other hand, Jesus believes that those who choose to follow him will ultimately lead them to
salvation because of devoted faith. This humanistic view of mankind promotes self-
determination and allows man to find his own way to salvation.
I had the chance to observe this idea personally when playing a board game, Avalon,
with my roommates. The game has two sides and each person is given good or bad roles.
Everyone’s identity was not to be revealed and certain characters were more significance
because they held more information about other players in the game. For example, the role of
Merlin knew who the bad characters were, but if those characters could identify who Merlin
was at the end of the game, they would win. After numerous hours of playing, I found a
common pattern that my friends would sometimes reveal a sense of relief when they got the
role of Peasant who was a good character with no other special feature. This was a feeling I
shared and with more thought, I realized I always wished in my mind to get that role because I
could still be a part of the justice league, but did not have the burdens to potentially cause our
team to lose. This experience was on a similar wavelength to Grand Inquisitor’s belief that man
cannot handle the responsibility of choice and would rather surrender it to comfort and
security.
It is only with the conjunction of effective information seeking and understanding of
human nature is there then the ability to persuade. Persuading the audience can occur with
certain techniques examine in depth in Soder’s Language of Leadership, but they all appeal to
the characteristics of ethos, pathos, and logos. Strong persuasion relies on not one, but an
implementation of all three to convince someone of believing or doing something. At times, the
strongest arguments are facts, numbers, and charts, but the nature of human beings makes us
emotional creatures. This makes the appeal to emotion one of the most significant if not
arguably the strongest technique to persuasion. We often put more weight onto feelings rather
than rational when it comes to directing us to do the right thing. In certain contexts, relating to
emotions helps people make the connection to themselves and the issue then seems more
personal. A good leader will know how to most greatly persuade his people.
There are other types of techniques that are considered unethical and not acceptable by
a leader of a democratic regime. For example, force is a technique that characterizes the actions
of autocratic societies. What force does is that it removes the choice of the people and makes
them obey even if they do not want to. Threats and coercion are means to oppress. Another
technique that is questionable with the consideration of ethics is manipulation. Lord
Chesterfield gives many examples of this in one of the many letters he wrote to his son. Some of
these tactics he endorsed included feigning ignorance to gain information, pretending to know
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Honors 230 – Final Paper
more than you do to stand corrected, and beating around the bush to get at what you really
want to know. There is no denying that these ways are dishonest ways to go about seeking
information rather than asking direct questions; at the same time, we implement them in our
everyday lives nonetheless. What distinguishes ethical means of persuasion from those
unethical is giving the people the choice to agree or disagree and the underlying intent. Leaders
should aim to persuade and make the people willfully submit to what the leaders intend.
The ideal kind of leader was described in detail in Ralph Lerner’s Lincoln’s Revolution.
The reason why Abraham Lincoln was a successful president even in a time of absolute chaos
was because he knew how to be a great leader. He understood the importance of public
opinion, the significance of a more thoughtful public and how to persuade his people. Most of
all, he cared about the people to help them come together again in a time of great divergence.
All in all, I tie all the loose ends here by saying that living in a democracy is such an
overlooked luxury that we as American have. We have the conditions for this civil society and
now we just have to constantly work towards ensuring that continues on. To have a more
thoughtful public requires two things: good schools and good leadership. When we secure both,
we have a society worthy of sustaining and lives up to the name of mankind. Mindfulness and
time is all we need. If people would just take the time to put a little more thought into the more
important aspects of their lives, the world would be a little bit more of a better place.

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