Friday, July 25, 2008

Intellectual Warfare

This I am sure, will be an controversial blog post. Here I hope to prove that most traditional forms of protest are ineffective in doing their purpose, which is to make change. By traditional, I mean picketing and chanting like at the 1989 Seattle protests. I also hope to propose a much more effective alternative to protest

Traditional protest usually lacks the Three Forms of Persuasion. Which are pathos, ethos and logos. Pathos can be defined as the use of emotional appeal to persuade. Take for example, distributing photographs of skinned puppies to get people to boycott fur coats. Ethos can be defined as flaunting one's authority to scare someone into believing something. Such as the Surgeon General's warning printed on cigarette boxes. Logos is the use of logic and argument to persuade someone.

Returning to my dead puppies example, while pathos will be effective in gathering people to join your cause, it will fail to get unethical corporations to change their ways on the matter. Also, appealing to people's emotions will not always work. People may not feel affected by pathos and will continue to do unethical things. In away, appealing to people's emotions has much in common with McDonald's commercials. The ads feed off people's desire to be "healthy" and "organic and natural" to get people to do things that are bad for them. In the same way, distributing pamphlets feeds off people's hope to be "ethical" and "fair" to get people to do something that might be good.

Ethos is the use of authority to get someone to do something. Earlier I made my example with the Surgeon General's warning on cigarette boxes, which can also be used in traditional protest. While people of authority are usually seen at protests, rarely do they use that authority to persuade their opponents to change.

Logos, the "one shot, one kill" method of persuasion, is not seen in traditional protest. For the most part, picket signs and chants just give information to opponents that tell them that there are people that don't like them. Also, the statements are not supported by fact; thus, they are not arguments (which should form the basis of any persuasive attack). A much more effective alternative to traditional protest is what I call "Intellectual Warfare", which makes liberal use of all three methods of persuasion.

Pathos and ethos, while largely ineffective in causing the opponent to change, is very efficient when it comes to recruiting others to join your cause. The dead doggy pictures can be given to others to get them to support you. Important and authoritative people can write articles and editorials to express their views using Logos. However, using logic and argument will be the only way to confront your opponent and try to get them to change. Arguments must be arranged with your opponent so leaders of movements can spar to finally persuade someone to change their view on using puppies in fur coats or to stop the Iraq War. Take for example, leaders who spearhead the Anti-Iraq-War movement should call up the Bush administration and confront them to get them to end the Iraq War.

As traditional protest is ineffective in initiating change, only with intellectual warfare can people accomplish what protest fails to do. No more offensive or disrupting rants, just effective persuasion.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Living Alive

Living on the edge is the only way to really live.

Let me ask you a question. Why are people afraid of dying? Well, I have a theory.

People are afraid of dying because they are afraid that they will never be able to do everything they wanted to do. They fear that they will never get to what makes life interesting: experiences. Doing things makes life enjoyable; it gives us both meaning and pleasure. A life devoid of experiences is an unhappy one. Sadly, I have seen people who choose to live boring lives of the same old experiences, jobs they hate and a lack of change.

So, how then can one live a life not wasted? By living with an open mind and a willingness to try things. By keeping life fresh he continues to live with a reason. Does this mean that you should live as a hedonist? No. A life of pleasure and no meaning is still an unhappy one. I will not be surprised if hedonists are kept up at night by a strong feeling of "why am I doing this?" or "God, I feel bored!" Similarly, meaning with no pleasure yields no happiness . The same feelings of "Why am I doing this?" and boredom occur. These are two paths to the same, tired end. Only when one gets both pleasure and meaning he gets happy. The more of both, the better. Surplus of one and deficiency of the other will yield long, sleepless nights.

Now that we have mapped out the way live well, we should define what it is. For example: when you graduate from school, or leave something, do you ever feel that you should have done something, left something incomplete?

Take for example, you visit a resort famed for skydiving. It cost you over three months pay to go there, and here you are. You have the opportunity to amaze yourself and others. But, as the travel guide offers you the chance, you decline because you think it too unsafe. All the money you accrued to get there has gone to waste; same with the effort, but most importantly, the chance to do it has gone and will never come again. You missed the chance to be able to know how it is like to do something like that.

An interesting person is one who has seen and done special things and can tell about them. That's why a boring life not only leads to a wasted life, but a boring person.