The Motivated Sequence has five sections:
- Oliver gets our attention with humor and identifies the topic: the economic crisis in Puerto Rico.
- Oliver explains the problem, its impact on Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. He then explains the causes of the problem and the extent of it. In this section Oliver offers statistical evidence, expert testimony and news reports. He cites Sec 936, which during the 1970s enticed businesses to Puerto Rico. He even appeals to our sense of pathos by calling on the writer and star of the Broadway musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
- For the SATISFACTION step, Oliver identifies what must happen for Puerto Rico to recover from the crisis: Congress must act! One solution would allow Puerto Rico to file bankruptcy. Oliver even shows how attempts to solve Puerto Rico's problems have failed, including an ad campaign designed to entice rich folks to the island. In the SATISFACTION step MMS requires the speaker to offer refutation, which Oliver does when he offers support for passage of H.R. 4900, but it has opposition, which Oliver addresses.
- The VISUALIZATION: In this section, Oliver gets creative and calls on Miranda to rap about Puerto Rico's dilemma. Mianda compares Puerto Rico's destiny to the Titanic without "a way out." It's a heart-wrenching plea.
- ACTION: "Help Puerto Rico. It's just a hundred miles across," pleads Miranda. The subtext here is that we all need to call on Congress to do something, to take action.
As a child growing up in a Southern Baptist home and church, I learned (read: memorized) many bible verses and have long loved the beauty of the KJV. Among the verses than meant--and mean--much to me is Proverbs 29:18. "Where there is no vision, the people perish..." It's this part of the verse I clung to and used as a compass for setting goals and striving to reach them.
This idea of creating a vision both for their speeches and visualizing the possibilities for their lives motivates me to guide my students in their use of MMS. I want them to visualize possibilities for themselves and for our country, even if our leaders won't.