Tropical Storm Lee’s 5 + inches of rain has about dried up in the post-storm Indian summer sun and warmth, but the mosquito eggs that hatched in the storm’s left-over ground moisture have burst to fruition. Walking through the back yard, or across any grassy surface, especially late in the day or early morning, stirs up boiling swarms of the swirling, biting insects. In this era of West Nile Virus, we regard the winged varmints as more than an itchy nuisance.
Our campus horticulturalist evidently attempted to deal with the public health issue on campus by spraying insecticide, according to the following message he posted this morning on the campus-wide email distrubution list:
To all who are concerned about mosquitoes on campus; we are spraying 5 days a week. We are doing all that we can do. Please understand that when we spray, the spray has to drift. It is not going to hit every mosquitoes on this campus. It takes time to get them under control.
Thank you all for being very patient.
Read closely, the gracious tone of his note suggests the writer is applying more grace than he’s receiving from a critical element of the campus public. Thus, I decided to analyze his discourse as an example of the rhetoric of patience, the kind of graceful rhetoric that serves the public good so much better than vitriol and politicism.
First, he politely addresses his audience: “To all those concerned… .” If he wrote the truth, he’d have begun, “To all of you that are complaining and griping and calling me names… . ”
Then note the polite use of please: “Please be patient…” How much you wanna bet the audience he’s reacting to is NOT asking please? Of course not! He’s responding to critics whose tone is shrill, irritable, critical, and self-centered. He’s probably hearing remarks like “Why doesn’t that blankety-blank ground crew spray the campus?”
But he doesn’t react in kind. He patiently proceeds to explain in reasonable tones why the process of spraying doesn’t work the way his critics believe the process should work.
Finally, after having to defend himself from attackers who ought not to have attacked him in the first place, and who have shown a remarkable lack of patience, how does he close?
He thanks them for their patience!
Quel gentilhomme! What an example! Would politicians take note?