On March 19th 2003 President George W. Bush addressed the nation, "My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger." (Bush). That evening American forces began dropping bombs on the ancient city of Bagdad without the sanction of the United Nations Securtiy Council. It was broadcast to our nation and the world. School aged children watched and learned that our nation had begun a war with a country that posed a threat to our security. What did these children learn from this message?
Behavioral psychologists suggest that children learn from modeling adults (Papalia et al.). Are we then teaching them to use force when conflict arises? How am I supposed to encourage a peaceful solution to a disagreement between two enraged students when our government resolves its conflicts through military force? By dropping bombs on our enemies a message is being sent to our youth: use force to solve a problem. This idea needs to be changed, but how? I value my position as an educator not for my responsibility to instruct youth in academics but for my role in promoting social responsibility and understanding of diversity. We as teachers have an uphill battle as we try to change this destructive character of our students and community. It is up to the educators of our society to set an example that resolving conflict can be achieved through communication.
Communication is an innate process which gives an individual the ability to understand what another individual is thinking. Once out of the womb a new born will cry to communicate discomfort in its new environments. By age two the child will begin to engage in two-way conversations (Papalia et al.). There are many forms of communication. Nonverbal forms are just as common as verbal forms. The raising of a fist can be used to represent power while a wave of the hand can evoke a feeling of community. Verbal forms can be presented in a variety of modes. How the voice is presented will promote the quality of the message. Often the two forms are used together. A speaker giving a speech uses his or her body to accentuate the message. The aggressiveness or passivity of their voice brings a deeper meaning to the message. The voice of a persuasive speaker has qualities of articulation, pronunciation, pitch, speed, proper use of pauses, volume and variance. Speakers communicate while using these qualities to persuade their audiences.
President Bush was aware that the aspects of persuasive voice were necessary to effectively convince the American public that our only solution was to start a war. He sat with appropriate posture at his desk. His red tie was neatly looped as he endorsed the need for military force to solve the problem in Iraq. With proper stature he influenced the American public by his confidence. His speech was well prepared. He lowered his pitch to portray sincerity, then raised it to accentuate his determination. The speed of his message remained consistent. He spoke neither too quickly nor too slowly, allowing the audience to understand his point. The whole time he looked directly into the camera, articulating and pronouncing eloquently every word. His persuasive voice was used to advance war.
If one can convincingly endorse war then it is possible to also persuasively promote peace. When looking back in history, we see many example of effective persuasion to maintain peace. During the Cold War several key speeches communicated the importance of peace as the United States and the Soviet Union each raced to obtain more nuclear weapons than the other. Fortunately, this threat of a nuclear war has ended. It was solved through communication. The key to any form of communication is in understanding. When nations do not communicate, they do not understand each other. When countries do not take the time to understand each other, war transpires. Educators need to teach that there are other alternatives ways to resolve conflict. One alternative is to communicate with one another. It is as deep rooted in our species as aggression. Communication can disable ignorance. If our society models peaceful solution to our problems through communication, then our youth will follow in our footsteps.