"Listen, I tell them, many people who don't share your faith will
stop reading here or at least be unconvinced. Wouldn't it be better to
try to reach them in such a way that they will at least read to the end
of the paper?"
Three-pointer and the foul. It really becomes apparent that students
at the fy level need to stop writing to themselves and people like
them and start trying to construct bridges to other kinds of people.
Despite absolutely forbidding papers on abortion, I do use it as an
example of the kind of argument where each side doesn't even much
bother talking to each other anymore in the sense of figuring out
what kinds of things are important to the other side, what would
convince them, etc. People who are convinced the fetus is a living
creature and that killing it is murder don't give a damn about the
woman's "choice" any more than they would if they were talking about
a 10-month-old baby, so when the pro-choicers shout "What about
choice?" at the pro-lifers, the pro-lifers say, "What about it?".
Likewise, the pro-choicers simply don't agree that the fetus is
"murderable" or "viable" or whatever, so pro-lifers can't start from
their own assumptions and convince the pro-choicers. Speeches made
from either camp are made only to solidify the base that is already
there; in other words, each side talks only to itself, and that's the
position a lot of these fy kids are in. And I was surprised at how
much they DON'T want to be like this, once you can get them to see
that they're not really making any headway with the people they
really want to talk to.
BTW, I also like your gradual approach--"not kicking them in the ribs
about the one thing they're certain of" right away, but leading them
into a larger community of discourse. I think it's known as "really
P.S.: I miss Missouri. I lived in the Springfield area off and on
for about 12 years, and my ex-in-laws used to live right down the
road from you in Boonville. I sort of remember these big things
called, um, trees, and water gathered in large running bodies called
rivers and collected in something called lakes. (It's been awhile.)