A view from my side.
I have a bone to pick with people. For years we have had to endure with a “new” way of speaking. The rising intonation at the end of a sentence that normally accompanies a question. I’m sure you’ve heard what I’m talking about. It has become so bad that even professional speakers of declarative sentences, news anchors, are guilty. I was listening to CNN on tv the other day while I was unpacking, straightening, cleaning, etc., in the apartment and cringed every time I heard it.
I teach Debate at my school. I talk to the students at the beginning of every semester about this latest speech craze and implore them not to be guilty of it. I tell them the last thing they want to do in a debate is to sound unsure of themselves. Ending a declarative sentence with a rising intonation as though you were asking a question is the kiss of death in a debate. Most of them laugh when we talk about it, but our discussion makes them aware of it. Then, magically, they start to hear it everywhere around them. Their friends. Their parents. Even some of their teachers. They will chide each other in a debate round, commenting something along the lines of “apparently my opponent questions even his own evidence. Why else would he sound so unsure…” and then they will quote something their opponent said using the same rising intonation at the end.
Right now we are listening to politicians running for office all over this country. From the race for President down to local community leaders, people all over the country want us to listen to them and embrace their ideals as well as ideas. They are asking for our votes, our support and our contributions of time and money. That’s the way our system works and I’m very happy we have it. But if these people can’t *declare* what they stand for…with conviction…then I will find someone else to support, contribute to, vote for.
Conviction in yourself, in your beliefs, shows to me a strength of character. To stand up and proudly profess that you believe something…that can take real courage. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition for heresy and forced to recant for his convictions about the nature of our universe. Our Founding Fathers risked execution as traitors standing up for their convictions. Presidents, politicians and community leaders have been assassinated for their convictions. And while I may disagree with some people’s opinions, I will stand next to them and defend their right to free expression of those opinions should that right ever come under fire.
I try to instill in my students and my players a sense of confidence that comes from this tradition. I want them to have the confidence and trust in themselves and their convictions to speak like they mean it. I want them to be able to hold their head high and express themselves boldly. Whether that expression be words they speak or their play on the field, I want them to be confident enough in themselves and their convictions to put it out there for everyone to see. There is no need to be cocky or overly aggressive, do not misinterpret me here. It is just that when they go to the trouble to speak, speak with authority. And when the go to the trouble to play, play with authority. Your actions, your tone, your manner should clearly demonstrate that you trust what you believe and what you know to be worthwhile and worth my time.
Taylor Mali is a teacher/slam poet. He has many, many interesting things to say and I highly recommend you visit his website. I’m sure you would enjoy many of his works. The one I link to here addresses the very thing this post is about. I’ll let it speak for itself…with Conviction.
The poem is by Taylor Mali. The typography is by Ronnie Bruce.