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The Power of the Pen: On converting impulse to action

January 24, 2017

Now that the march is over, the time has come to take the next step. One of those steps will be to act in the thousands—the millions—to let every elected official in the country know that you have opinions as to the right course of action, and you expect them to be heard, and honored.

This will take work. It doesn’t have to be grueling, but if it’s too easy, it will carry too little weight. Clicking on a petition is easy; composing an email, deciding who to send it to, finding out where to send it, and then doing it again and again, is more akin to work.

Work is picking up the tools and using them. Think about what it is you want to say, then sit down at the keyboard and compose the letter. Not write—compose. Using .doc, shift the sentences and paragraphs around as needed, until the composition itself has power. This is more than just an opinion piece, this is a skillfully projected argument intended to sway the recipient—the congressman, the senator, the chief executive—to see things the way you do, and act accordingly. If you are haphazard in your presentation, you will be wasting your time and theirs.

Maybe you want to change the course of history, and stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency, or the approval of the oil pipelines, or the wholesale deportation of immigrants, or any of a host of other disastrous policies the new administration is considering. If you want to have any effect at all, you will have to start with reason and compelling argument, before resorting to emotional appeal. That has its own place in the dialog, but it is not the prime place.

Now you have the letter. Determine who among the power elite is most likely to be receptive, and start with them. Who will they be? Ask google. What is their address? Ask google. Who else should I contact? All your friends and acquaintances who you believe will share your opinions, and help to forward them along. Who else? Ask google.

What about those who I know won’t agree with me? Ask yourself, only you will know whether your arguments will persuade them.

The Power of the Pen is only one course of action. Not the most difficult—that is yet to come. But your voice, heard in the millions, will demonstrate its power.

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