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Rhetoric and Abundance

Erec Smith

As a rhetorician, I see rhetoric as a crucial aspect of a free and pluralistic society, and I believe that its theory and best practices should be explored. I also think rhetorical skill can be the difference between feeling powerless and powerful.

With rhetorical skill, one’s agency, and therefore influence, is strengthened substantially. In “Rhetoric Creates Opportunities for Abundance,” written for Discourse Magazine, I write, “Using rhetoric to identify with an audience can open doors that would otherwise remain shut.…This, in turn, may lead to an abundant life.”

Regarding the meaning of “abundance,” I agree with Archbridge Institute’s Gonzalo Schwarz, who defines it as “achievement, purpose, aspiration, poverty reduction and developing the skills and personal characteristics necessary to thrive in our current economy.” For Schwarz, this understanding of abundance is “critical to increasing social mobility and enhancing human flourishing.” I believe when it comes to a marketplace of ideas, rhetoric is a crucial tool for achieving such abundance in a free society and improves one’s ability to be socially mobile and prosperous therein.

I believe that rhetorical skill can help one to take advantage of opportunities as they arrive, better ensuring that person can access abundance.

I’m reminded of a story from the late economist, Walter Williams, in his autobiography, Up From The Projects. As a child, Williams took this advice from his stepfather: “you never know when the opportunity train is going to come along…if and when it comes, don’t be in the position of saying, ‘Wait! Let me go and pack my bag.’ Be packed and ready to hop on board.”

In other words, with proper preparation, one can better ensure making the best of unforeseen opportunity. I believe this advice is a great way to define the efficacy of rhetorical skill. To be skilled in rhetoric is to always be “packed and ready to hop on board.”

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