If a wise man learns by his own mistakes and a genius learns by the mistakes of others, then it is a fool that thinks he has all the answers. There are always gaps in our knowledge bank that can be exploited by the use of rhetoric or skilfull persuasion.
The Orators of Ancient Greece elevated this art through public speaking and debate. Something did indeed happen on the way to the Forum. The value of this skill became highly prized and the rich and powerful paid big money to learn the techniques of verbal arm-twisting. A new breed of teacher was born known as the Sophists who became the first lawyers by virtue of their convincing ability to argue the case.
Sales pitches rely on the same basic elements to drive home the emotional urgency of committing to the call to action. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a basic road map of our ‘hot buttons’ and not much has changed over the centuries. Whether it be a roof over our heads, food for the table or wage claims, most of our concerns and anxieties revolve around survival and security issues. The establishment of the Border Protection Force in Australia is a perfect example of xenophobic paranoia that is fear-mongering masquerading as paternalistic governance.
That old chestnut, the law ‘n order ticket is an overplayed standby of last resort when political parties run out of steam in the New Ideas Department. Budget deficits can also be subject to the ‘colour bar’ when it suits the political agenda and the nifty side-stepping whereby governments give the plebs the choice of being hung, drawn or quartered is delivered as a democratic privilege.
A true Statesman is one who stands head and shoulders above the crowd in their long term vision and who has the ability to deliver that message through skilfull rhetoric and political persuasion. The fact that they are few and far between is testimony to the rarity of that combination.
The end oftentimes doesn’t justify the means; it is then that the question is more important than the answer which will still be blowin’ in the wind.