15 The Persuasiveness of Pathos
To my teachers and professors.
I want to thank all my previous teachers and professors who have helped me along the way in this journey of mine. I know I was not the best writer in the class but they always gave me the right support on how to improve my writing skills. They showed me the different writing formats I can use for certain essays. They always encourage me to just write what was on my mind on whatever topic we were assigned to. Then after I had a pre-draft, they would narrow things down to the point where I can get the best things in my draft and get my point across to the readers. If it were not for them I do not think I would be able to write essays where a professor wants a specific way and format style. I want to thank my professors for persuading me that it is ok to add some personal stories to a topic while still getting my point across. They always take the time of day to help you if you need it. Even if you don’t need it, they still give you advice on how to improve your essay and ways you can change it up to make it better than before.
I want to thank my parents for everything they have done for me. The struggles they went through just to give me a better opportunity then the one they had. They always pushed me into the right direction where I can get the best of things and not have to worry about anything. Because of them I am where I am today. They made the person I am today and I am grateful for that. I have a lot of great opportunities because of them and I want to make the best of them to repay for everything they have done.
Keywords: Emotions, Decision-making, Happiness, Friends, Love
Don’t give up just because Plan A did not work out. Don’t give up just because someone has told you that your decision will not work out and to find another option. You cannot give up because you ran into a roadblock. You must find another route to get to your destination. As human beings our emotions get the best of us and give up too soon. Sometimes all you need is the right person who can tell you the right words you want to hear to turn yourself around and get back on track to what you want to accomplish and finish. This is pathos, this term is important because whether the speaker says good or bad stuff, in a person’s view, as long as he/she can connect with your feelings and change your state of mind, he/she has done their job. Pathos is really important to me because it reminds me why I am doing what I do. There are many times where I don’t have the energy or motivation to do homework or to go to soccer practice. Sometimes I want to drop out and even quit soccer. You know just live life. My senior year of high school, I joined the Atlanta United Academy and would have to drive 2 hours every day to practice. I was the new guy and it took forever to adjust. About 2 months in I started to realize that I was not enjoying the sport that I love anymore. I wasn’t too sure if it was because of the environment that I was in or because I was not able to finish my high school year with my best friends. My mind was going through a rollercoaster on what decision I had to make. Drop out of the academy and go back to high school or to continue playing. I was too afraid on what other people would think. Then I remembered that I have the most important thing I need to take care of and that is my parents. The weekly phone calls with them remind me that it’s bigger than just me. I have a lot of people behind me who are depending on me to make it out of the small town that I live in. After having the talk with my parents, I was able to realize that I can only control what I want and that I should not worry about anyone else’s opinion. I made the decision to go back to playing for my high school and at the end it all worked out. I still went to an amazing college which I was committed too for a while before joining Atlanta and I also won a state championship. The most important thing which I am grateful for is I became the Gatorade National Player of the Year for 2019. In this chapter, I am going to be discussing why pathos is important, why you abide by it, and to change the way you approach things.
Pathos is important and we use it every day whether we realize it or not. We are very conscious of people’s opinions. It can have a positive or negative reaction on us. A person’s feelings are the key to life. It is the reason why we do such things. In Aristotle’s book On Rhetoric says, “The feelings are those things due to which people, by undergoing a change, differ in their judgments, and that entails pain and pleasure.” Words can have a huge effect on us. Words that are told to us can feel good and bad. Also, the words you use to tell someone else can affect them. You have to be wise on which words we use to certain people. People have different feelings and can be changed by them. Many of us may not realize it but as human beings, you are the audience who listens to a speaker who has higher power than us. A lot of us depend on the opinion of a person of higher power to do such things. For example, if you are choosing a president, you need to be convinced by them and they have to connect with us so they can get our vote. “Persuasive strategies in political discourse provide opportunities for politicians to influence, guide, and control their audiences according to their desires and benefits” (Ghasemi 19). These strategies that the political people use have a strong say in what you wish to believe.
I argue that you abide by Pathos in our everyday life verbal and nonverbal. From the time you wake up to when it’s time for bed. Maybe even in our dreams. When you wake up you decide you are going to work because you know you have bills to pay. So, to get money, you must go to work so you can pay the bills. If your boss gives you a raise and praises you on how good you are doing, you want to keep that job and keep going to work. You know you have someone who is encouraging you and somewhere you feel safe. As for a student, you have to go to school because you need to get good grades. You need to get a degree to have a job in the future. You want to persuade our parents that their money is not going to waste and you can be adults. As for teachers/professors, You want to make the class fun so the students can be excited to be there. They may try to play games or give extra credit so their students can enjoy the class. “Pathos is an emotional appeal and involves putting the audience into a certain frame of mind.” (Ting 247). Especially during tough times like now because of Covid. Many are virtual and it is hard for a student to be engaged. They need the students to be in the right mindset to be focused in class and prepared to learn. “Challenging the public to make them react.” (Stoica 71). For example, one of my professors gives an extra daily grade to their students who engage in class and talk in the lecture. This makes the class not seem dead or strange being virtual.
You should change the way you approach things. When I learned about Pathos, it changed my mindset. It made me question myself. I asked myself do I want the same thing as my friends do or am I only doing it because they are. I know people are going to say, “why should I change my friend group.” I’m not saying you should, but I am asking if it helps you in the long run. Doing the things they do, is that helping you in any way? I know it can be fun at the moment but will it get you to where you want to be in 5 years? There are those times you do it because you want them to like you and you want to look cool. Even though your gut feeling is telling you not to do it but you do it anyway. You are only hurting yourself in the long run. Sometimes it just takes one person to change your worldview. My parents would keep me on track and I am glad they did because I don’t think I would be in college if it weren’t for them. As a kid, I always dreamed of being a professional soccer player but being with the friends I had back then was not going to get me to where I wanted. I had to make sacrifices to get to where I am today. There were many struggles that I came with it. I know it is tough for some people to open up their feelings to their parents because they are afraid of they would say. I courage people to try to open up to their parents because it could change them and possibly make their relationship that much better. As Denzel Washington says, “nothing in life is worth living if you don’t take risks”. I took risks and trusted my gut. I’m still not where I want to be but I sure am closer than what I would have been if I didn’t take those risks.
In conclusion, I argue that Pathos is very important because you use it in our everyday lives. You depend on people’s opinion because it affects our emotion and how you see and do things. As human beings, you abide by it every day. You need someone to give us life and to push us to the next step. You need a sense of hope. When someone of high power speaks on something you like, you tend to get happy because it is something you wanted to hear. All you need is the right person to change our view. Pathos is a quality that evokes happiness or sadness. It affects our emotions and feelings. Talking to others can change our life but at the same time the person you have to listen to the most if yourself. You all have a little voice inside our heads where even sometimes we have a conversation with ourselves. Listen to your mind, body, and heart because it is the only thing that is going to keep you happy.
I wrote in this book because it was a big part of my life, I was able to see growing up how Pathos really affected people and their decisions. Having an older brother, I was able to learn from him and his friends. They were a very talented group of friends who could’ve gone far in the sport of soccer. Their decision making was not the best. Year by year you could slowly see how their decision making affected them. The people they hung out with outside of soccer and just not carrying about school affected them in the long run. Some went to jail, others didn’t graduate, and the majority either had a baby or did drugs. Once I hit high school, I could slowly start seeing similar things with the friends around me. People who I thought were very good at their sport, were not taking it serious like they once talked about when they were young. I made sure to not fall for the same trap and had to make tough decisions to separate myself from them and do what’s best for me. Sometimes the things you do for yourself is the best thing to do. Your emotions matter too. You can listen to their opinion but at the end of the day, you either going to hurt yourself or be glad you didn’t do the actions they did. I rather be glad and be happy for putting myself first. In the long run, it has gone pretty well for me. So, my advice is to put yourself first and listen to yourself before putting someone else ahead of you.
Aristotle, and C. D. C. Reeve. Rhetoric. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2018. Print.
Ghasemi, Farshad. “Persuasive Language in Presidential Speeches: A Contrastive Study Based
on Aristotelian Rhetoric.” Buckingham Journal of Language & Linguistics, vol. 12, Jan. 2020,
19–38. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5750/bjll.v12i.1872
Stoica, Dan S. “Public Relations: A Rhetoric Approach.” Argumentum: Journal the Seminar of
Discursive Logic, Argumentation Theory & Rhetoric, vol. 17, no. 2, July 2019, pp. 71–88.
Ting, Su-Hing. “Ethos, Logos and Pathos in University Students’ Informal Requests.” GEMA
Online Journal of Language Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, Feb. 2018, pp. 234–251. EBSCOhost,
Watch This Everyday And Change Your Life – Denzel Washington Motivational
Speech 2020. YouTube, YouTube, 3 June 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbnzAVRZ9Xc&t=516s.