When Opportunity Knocks, Will You Be Ready?
I’ve been a history buff for many years. I have taken advantage of this interest to sprinkle several historical vignettes throughout my new eBook, “The Art of Clear Writing,” to illustrate various points. One of my favorites concerns Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase. I think it’s worth repeating here.
“Engineering the Louisiana Purchase – A Look Back
It was the hallmark of President Thomas Jefferson’s political philosophy that the Chief Executive should not have excessive power. Yet, in 1803, when faced with the opportunity to purchase from France the vast, unexplored, Louisiana Territory that bordered on the western side of America, he cast that belief aside and signed the agreement to buy the territory for $15 million.
Jefferson’s visionary act removed a potential threat to America’s national security. One option was to take no action at all, thus leaving Napoleon, builder of empires, in possession of the territory. But Jefferson, taking the advice of American Commissioners abroad, decided on the purchase. Paving the way for this historical event was the work of Jefferson’s predecessor, John Adams, in securing peace with France during the so-called “Quasi War,” which ended in 1800.
There was considerable doubt as to the constitutional power to make such a purchase. But when the identical issue came before the Supreme Court in 1828 in a different case, Chief Justice John Marshall, speaking for the Court, ruled that “the Constitution confers absolutely on the government…, the powers of making war, and of making treaties; consequently, that government possesses the power of acquiring territory, either by conquest or by treaty.” (See: John Marshall, Definer of a Nation, 335, Jean Edward Smith, Henry Holt & Company, 1996, quoting from American Insurance Co. v. Canter, 1 Peters 511, (1828), a case involving the purchase of Florida, but where the issue was the same as that involving the Louisiana Purchase.)”
The Louisiana Purchase was all about Jefferson’s taking advantage of an existing opportunity to increase America’s security when the opportunity presented itself. Jefferson, an experienced politician and statesman, recognized the opportunity and was ready when it presented itself.
Opportunities also exist in today’s world, but if you can’t write clearly you will not be in a position to take advantage of them. This is a world of global communications. The power of the written word is more important today than ever before. I believe much of the flatness in today’s economy exists because individual initiative has taken a back seat to waiting for government largesse to happen. This is wrong and goes contra to the free enterprise economic background of this country. Your own individual initiative can help turn things around and you can start by fixing your grammar.
To be more precise, clear writing necessitates use of correct grammar. Recent blogs have pointed out that poor grammar plagues American businesses today. You can put yourself in a position to take advantage of job opportunities by reading and writing extensively and on a daily basis. This discipline will increase your ability to write clearly, sharpen your intellect, and will teach you to learn correct grammar by word association. This approach, also promoted in my eBook, means you don’t have to rely on memorization of grammar rules to learn and use good grammar. Memorization of such rules is acceptable, even necessary when you are a student, but once you enter the working world it is likely that you have forgotten them. Moreover, memorization of rules and definitions will have little effect on learning and understanding the context with which words are used. Training your eye through extensive reading and writing to carefully observe how how grammar is used in putting sentences together and to constantly practice what has been learned will improve your ability to write clearly. This approach has worked for me. It can also work for you. But it requires hard work and dedication. A now and then approach won’t work.
It is important to remember that writing is a form of salesmanship – you are selling yourself. Developing trust in your reader depends on the credibility emanating from your writing. Attracting that trust can be achieved only if you dedicate yourself to improving your writing skills. Employers are more selective in this economy, with jobs at a premium. Clear writing skills will help to make you stand out from the crowd.
Check out my new website, www.agregardie.com.
The next blog will be posted on Friday, August 31, 2012.
Copyright 2012. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.