There are just so many things that I love that brings joy and the feeling of pride to me. Out of the never ending list of favorite things that I love, three elements that I’m going to share that are my most favorite is a cultural instrument that I have played for years, a practiced philosophy, and a Demi Lovato song. All three of these elements reflects on the rhetorical appeals of kairos, logos, and pathos.
The Qeej is a Hmong cultural instrument that I have been playing ever since the start of my freshman year in high school. This musical instrument is very important in Hmong culture because it is used in funerals. The Qeej is made up of six bamboo pipes and each note played, mimics the Hmong language. It is also commonly used as entertainment today, as there are traditional routines that go along with it. In addition, it helps break the norms of the Hmong society of women being socially accepted as housewives or stay at home moms only. In other words as stated by a Hmong article, “Hmong men are like the white race in a melting pot society; they are privileged” (Cha). This means that they are the most important and involved in every aspect of the Hmong community while the women are often put in the shadows. By playing the Qeej instrument I sought out to fight this social norm that was placed on me when I was born. Not only that, learning to play the Qeej means a lot to me because it makes me feel connected to my own culture. Performing with this instrument around the town I grew up in and around the state of Wisconsin reminds me of my cultural origin.
The rhetorical appeal that I see, is kairos. Kairos is the knowing of what is appropriate in a given situation and/or the right timing of something. Kairos plays a role in my journey with the Qeej because I felt as though, taking on Hmong’s musical instrument at the start of my high school freshman year, was just the right timing for me to contribute and impact the Hmong community because generally women are not allowed to play this instrument. By playing and learning about this instrument I was able to help the Hmong community see that Hmong women here in America do not succumb to the norms of the Hmong society.
I always found everything of Thailand fascinating. From their country flag, to their foods, to their movies, songs, spoken language, traditional clothing, cultural performances, and many more. It’s quite saddening to mention that I have never gone to Thailand before, but patiently waiting for the right moment, I wish that one day there will be a chance for me to visit my number one top list of favorite countries to travel. I adoringly love all of Thailand. Just thinking about it makes me so happy that there is a great part of the region in the world that has such a beautiful, exciting culture. Although there are so many endless list of likes for Thailand, one of the things I find most attractive in this culture is the philosophy the Thai people practice which is called Buddhism. Buddhism is the practice of long, unconditional enlightenment, or happiness.
I started to be interested in the philosophy, Buddhism after watching many Thai movies and lakorns as a child. I believe the values that it holds about peace and unity are some of the main reasons why I follow this philosophy. Buddhism teaches, “Do not kill.” This is translated as not harming another and the absence of violence, do not steal, do not lie, do not misuse sex, do not consume alcohol or other drugs” (Buddhism Core Values). I believe these core values that Buddhism teaches are essential in keeping peace in the world.
Speaking from this, the rhetorical element that I believe is being used, is logos. Logos is defined as the appeal to logic or fact as a way of persuading the audience. The purpose of Buddhism is to practice life long wisdom, nonviolence, and good deeds in which I believe this is what makes this philosophy so truly mesmerizing. The logic of Buddhism is stated as “the Noble Eightfold Path describes the way to end the suffering, understood as practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions and to finally understand the transcendent truth about all things” (Fathi). Ever since I learned about the Thai peoples’ practiced philosophy, I began to read more about Buddhism. I especially love quotes from Buddhas because what they say, gives me a lot of positivism and motivates me to become a person with a goal of achieving peace everywhere I go.
The 2016 Demi Lovato song “Stone Cold” on her album Confident has been catchy song that I’ve been listening to repeatedly while in the car. The song was a big hit once it came out and many were amazed by the strong connection that Lovato has made. The song was used as an audition song on The Voice 2017 from contestant Brooke Simpson and Lovato sang her hit on Saturday Night Live and at Billboard’s Women in Music. The official music video for the song features Lovato in scenes walking through the cold winter season and crying in the tub over a former lover. As Lovato sings her emotional song, “Stone cold/ stone cold/ you see me standing but I’m dying on the floor” depicts a emotional story about the hurt that occurs from watching a former lover move on with their life.
I really like this song because of the emotion that is expressed through the singer. Because of Lovato’s passionate singing voice, extreme vocals, and sentiment, it puts me into the shoes of an uneasy heartbreak portrayed in the lyrics, which makes me feel the emotion of the song.
The rhetorical element through which I viewed this song as is pathos. Pathos is defined as the appeal to emotion and a way of convincing of an argument by creating an emotional response. Through Lovato’s huge hit song that she wrote from personal experience, I can say it was pathos because it gives an emotional connection to many around the country and to me. Although I have never been through a hard break-up, the lyrics that were sung, were strong and powerful that it made me feel the deep sadness in the lyrics. Listening to this song frequently, makes me think of all those people who can relate to Lovato’s song completely because they have also had an unhappy break-up. Lovato’s song, “Stone Cold” definitely resembles pathos because its lyrics link to the connection of a deep feeling of pain, sadness, and the tint of confidence to move on.
All three of these elements- the instrument, Buddhism, and the song- are three of my most favorites that I have chosen to represent in discussion to my rhetorical appeals. Although there are four rhetorical appeals- ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos, I have decided to focus mainly on the kairos, logos, and pathos as my appeals as they strongly pertained to my elements.
Cha, Ya Po. An Introduction to Hmong Culture. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2010, https://pcvang19.wordpress.com/patriarchy-in-hmong-culture/.
Robinson, B.A. Information about the ReligiousTolerance.org web site and the people who maintain it. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 2004, http://www.religioustolerance.org/buddhism1.htm.
Fathi, Karim. Logic in Buddhism. Springer International Publishing, 2007, https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-1-4020-8265-8_1589.
Lovato, Demi. “Stone Cold.” Confident, 2016.