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Rhetoric has played a prominent role in Western tradition as a subject of great study, practice and discussion. It is an art and not of the usual kind but one of discourse and persuasion. Aristotle defined rhetoric as comprised of two beings one of logic and one of politics that facilitates the means of persuasion. Aristotle further compartmentalized the art of persuasion into three persuasive appeals most commonly known as logos, pathos and ethos. It is these three aspects of persuasion that led to the successfulness and growth of rhetoric. Ethos normally takes place in a speaking setting where the speaker is seeing how well they can influence an audience to believe what they are saying. Pathos uses the emotional appeal to affect the audience’s judgment and logos is the use of reasoning to either induct or deduct in a way to construct an argument. These three styles of appeals can be seen through public speaking and speaking analysis. It is through these three appeals that rhetoric is given life. Rhetoric plays a crucial role in citizenship as well. In order to understand the role rhetoric plays in citizenship one must first understand citizenship and everything it encompasses. “Citizenship at its most basic is defined legally as membership in a particular Nation-state. Strict legalists may be puzzled by debates over definitions of citizenship or even discussions of citizenship in educated environments because they view citizenship as a legal category, with conferral of status occurring in the legal realm and certainly outside of the classroom or other social institutions”. (WAN) To think of citizenship as a Merriwether Page 1
term that can only be applied to one’s legal status is a jaded way of thinking which is why scholars such as T.H. Marshall decided to expand on what citizenship really is. When one stops looking at citizenship as merely a term for one’s legal status you can see that citizenship is what defines us, shapes us and makes us into the people we are. Citizenship is what motivates us to care about our country and the people in it. It is our identity and self-worth. It’s the sense of belonging and purpose to something greater. That everyone is connected through citizenship. Even though people might have different, goals, thoughts or opinions, there is still an underlying truth that connects us all. Citizenship is the action that causes us to “do”. Whether it is a positive or negative light because of citizenship we feel something about the people we interact with in our daily life whether it is positive or negative. Because of citizenship we do care what is happening in society. Because of citizenship we do care about our wealth being as a country. It is the feeling of citizenship that causes us to act, feel and live. It is with this sense of purpose and love that inherently affects our day to day actions even if it’s subconsciously. I think these are qualities that make a citizen. It is more than just being born somewhere or taking a test on a country it is about what one actually does for a country! Are they giving back? Are they trying to make their country better? I think it is important for citizens to selflessly give of themselves to better not only their country but themselves. In order for us to grow as a society and people we must constantly strive to better ourselves and the people around us. This is where rhetoric comes into play. Not everyone is going to agree on the way society runs. Whether it be on a small scale such as in a community or in a classroom to agreeing on politics. When first asked to pick two major educational sponsors of rhetorical citizenship in my life I must admit I was stumped. It took some self-searching and some self-actualization to realize the two people who have impacted my life. I started to ponder on the person I am today. What defining moment in my life made me who I am? Or what choices had I made that led me to hold my various beliefs and
views on the world? Who was the person of sponsorship of rhetorical citizenship in my life and what aspect does that even entail. I have always been a person who puts other first and who cares about other’s well-being and up until this past week I never truly knew why. Then it clicked, it was my Youth Director in Middle School and High School Elizabeth Whitney. Elizabeth Whitney was the Youth Director at the First Methodist Church of Oviedo that came into my life at a time I needed it the most. The church had previously gone through three youth directors and couldn’t seem to find a Youth Director who was available to stay for a stagnant period of time. When our third Youth Director left Elizabeth who was the assistant at the time stepped up to the plate and took on our youth program wholeheartedly. Elizabeth went the extra mile and I’m not sure I was ever able to truly appreciate everything she did for me. She would constantly taking me and my friends out to lunch, picking us up from school on Wednesdays for church and challenging us in our faith. She was the first church figure in our life that was our friend first and was completely open with us in all aspects of her life. Through my four years of High School I attended mission trips in Costa Rica every summer. Elizabeth stressed the importance of civic engagement and how it not only benefited the people we were helping but how it would benefit us as people. Elizabeth exemplifies a positive sponsor of civic education. Through her relentless love, devotion and passion she inspired me to do more. She showed me how to be a citizen in all aspects of my life. I know it is because of Elizabeth that I still in engage in a myriad of civic activities for eleemosynary institutions. Whether it be running a 5K for the fight against breast cancer or feeding the homeless at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. I have always wanted to give and have found a great importance in reaching out in the community. I believe this is why it effects my definition of citizenship. It is through my personal experience and the influence of Elizabeth as an educational sponsor of rhetorical citizenship that leads me to believe that in order to be a citizen one must engage in civic engagement.
The other major educational sponsor of civic education in my life would be my mother Jacqueline Lindsay. Before Elizabeth walked in my life I already had thirst for civic engagement and the credit is all due to my mother. She raised me in a loving family with the importance of loving not only yourself but other people. Several a Christmas mornings were spent feeding the homeless before we could even open our own presents. A little aggravating at times something was instilled in me at a very young age. The act of civic engagement one that I will one day strive to pass on to my own children. To this day my mother still makes sure I put money into the collection plate on Sunday’s mornings. These are the types of actions that an educational sponsor entails. For this paper we were asked to adopt Deborah Brandt’s notion of sponsorships from her article “Sponsors of Literacy”. Brandt defines sponsors as “any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, model as well as recruit, regulate, suppress or withhold literacy”. This is exactly what my mother has done for me in the past 21 years of my life and what she has continued to do day after day. My love for civic engagement comes from having Elizabeth Whitney and my mother as my educational sponsors. It is because of these two significant women in my life that I view rhetorical citizenship as much more than just a term. I view rhetorical citizenship as a constant action of selfless giving and engaging in civic engagement. It is because of these two women that I give and will continue to give wholeheartedly.
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