Here is another piece for students on writing the essay. It is a continuation of the last article.
In 2016-2017, there were seventeen violent political protests in the United States, excluding the murders of policemen and the attempted assassination attempt on members of Congress. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_incidents_of_civil_unrest_in_the_United_States#2010.E2.80.932019)
Now we face the recent street fighting between extremist political groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, which has raised all sorts of questions. Are we headed into a civil war? What are the limits to free speech? Are “Nazis” allowed to gather and protest? Is America a racist hellhole? Should we strip away the monuments and place-names from our past? If so, where does that cleansing of history end?
(The tips below are meant for an essay written outside of the classroom. In another piece, we will look at the in-class essay, which is a different beast.)
You understand the basics.
You know that your essay requires an introduction, a thesis, a body containing paragraphs with topic sentences and information, and a conclusion. Whether you are writing a composition for a high school history seminar or a university literature class, the format remains the same.
More than at any other time in human history, we live in an age of written communication. Go to any coffee shop, and you’ll see a platoon of people plunking away on their phones or laptops, tapping out words, composing sentences, writing.
Despite all of our technological advances, and in some cases because of them, we also live in a time when miscommunication costs lives and money. Google “miscommunication costs business,” and you’ll discover that businesses in the United States collectively lose billions of dollars per year because of employee miscommunication. In hospitals and on battlefields, poor communication can literally kill people.
So it’s your first day of class. Maybe you’re a home school student joining a United States history and literature seminar. Maybe you’re in a private or public school new to you. Maybe you’re off to college.
Whatever the case, here are some tips about how to be a student from day one.
There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.
Though Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State under President George Bush, delivered the above remarks in regard to statecraft and diplomacy, students often feel the same way about tests and examinations. They know what they know, and they may know what they don’t know, but what most terrifies students about tests are the unknown unknowns-- that somehow they may not even know what they are supposed to know.
Tests bring anxiety, stress, and fear. Many students approach a test like a dancer or singer on stage for the first time, muscles tight, nerves jangling, stomach in knots. But as a boxing coach told me long ago, “You get into shape, you spar, and you mentally prepare. And yes, you’ll feel nervous as a cat getting into that ring. But then that other guy throws a punch, the jitters disappear, and you focus on the fight.”
For the past year, progressives, elites in the two major political parties, and smear jockeys in the media have attempted to destroy first the candidacy of Donald Trump and then the presidency of Donald Trump. Their barrage of riots, threats, leaks, fake news, and lies pound away daily at the president, his staff, and his supporters. Unable to accept the results of the election of 2016, these combined forces have sought these many months to bring down the president, indifferent to the havoc their efforts are wreaking on the country.
On November 5, 2001, not quite two months after the 9/11 attacks, Lech Walesa spoke at Western Carolina University. Walesa was famed for his resistance to communism in Poland and the Soviet Union, and was the founder of Solidarity, a trade union seeking an expansion of its negotiating power and the establishment of fundamental human rights within Polish communism. Along with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and Mikhail Gorbachev, Walesa was a key player in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Soviet Union.
Because Walesa was a hero of mine—he had suffered imprisonment and death threats for his stand for freedom—I obtained a press card and covered the event for the Smoky Mountain News. Walesa spoke to those assembled through an interpreter, stressing the importance of maintaining democracies and of opposing those who, like the 9/11 terrorists, sought to attack those democracies.
An old piece that has never appeared on the website.
Certainly I didn't mean to do it.
Really, it was an accident. I do, of course, confess to carelessness. In that regard, I am guilty, but I have learned my lesson. It is clear to me now that I can't chat on the telephone, look at sites on my computer, and drink a refreshing liquid, all at the same time. A human being has only two hands, and I was trying to use three. My disregard for my own human limitations led to Mac's early demise. Death is always a terrible thing, but to witness this death by drowning was a terrible trauma for me.
Last week a notice from the Federal Government arrived in the mail announcing that I owed a penalty of $585 for paying my taxes late.
A month earlier, I paid the Federal Government approximately $4400 on an income of less than $40000.00. I paid the state of North Carolina another $500. (These payments broke my bank account). In addition, every time I pump gasoline into my car, buy groceries or books, in fact buy anything at all, the state or federal government is snatching bucks out of my wallet. On top of that, I paid an accountant $750 this past year because 1) I can no longer figure out how to draw up my taxes and 2) I thought I would save some money.
And now I owe another $585?