Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Extempore Speech Text

Well, extempore speaking was quite an experience! Mom and Dad were great - Mom worked really hard phone calling offices for me last week to see if an internet connection would be possible, and Dad got it all set up for me when we got there. So there I was, in a tent outsite the 4-H building, all set up with the laptop, printer, and internet... I sat there before going in to get my topic and prayed that God would be glorified. Two of the three topics I pulled from the envelope were what I call "fluffy", so, though I knew it would be a challenge, I opted for the third -

Support: The US should remain involved in the Middle East peace talks

I came out with that slip of paper and began typing away. (By the way, I hadn't known before going that you are told whether to support or oppose the issue... I think it would've been much harder for me to speak in opposition to it! Not that I really have a strong personal position either way on the issue, but coming up with some convincing opposing arguements to this one would have been difficult, I think).

I ended up not receiving the "Superior" ribbon -- chiefly because I exceeded the 4-6 minute time limit by 41 seconds. So one good thing I learned was - have a stopwatch on the podium. :) (With coming from camp and all, this was forgotten until it was too late to procure one). The judges, though somewhat critical, were still positive in their critique and offered many good suggestions. I sensed that they disliked my more "philosophical" approach and wanted more facts and statistics... but overall, it was an excellent experience and one that I would not be afraid to do again. Truth to be told, the ribbon to me doesn't matter that much to me... I described it to several people as "just the cherry on top". The experience, the learning, the challenge, the reaching beyond one's comfort zone, the act of tackling something you said you'd never do, being able to take constructive criticism, learning how to "think on your feet", how to take a topic not-of-your-choosing and run with it... all these are worth so much more to me than the award. The look on Mom's face was priceless when she hugged me right before my ascending the podium and told me, "You're brave -- this is something I don't think I could ever do. I'm so proud of you!"

In short, it was another beautiful moment (moments) of looking with eyes of trust towards my Father, placing the whole endeavor in His Hands, and being able to close my eyes afterward and thank Him for stretching me.

In case you should be interested in reading my speech text, here it is...

“'I wish for peace on earth… I do
I hope that war will cease to be,
and death will end his horrid reign
allowing us to breathe
But in one place, I will admit
I wish to bring a blessed peace: The heart of man
But not the heart of any single human…
Peace, ruling in our collective heart
could transform all manunkind into what it was initially: Mankind.'
Although I can’t remember the author of this quote, it is relevant to the topic I selected this morning: Support for the United States remaining involved in the Middle East Peace talks.

Peace is a subject that is on our minds – and our lips – continually. The position of the US in regard to conflicts in other countries is a hotly-debated one – both on an individual and national level. Our great nation is in both a wonderful and precarious place with regard to the power of our actions, home and abroad. There is constantly a battle of wills going on – we all want peace; we just have conflicting ways of hoping to achieve it.

The current process of Middle East peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in 1991 after the first Gulf War. There was a focus on withdrawal from various areas in exchange for promises of peace. From 1991 till now, there has been a running cycle of treaties, declarations, agreements and changes of rulers.

September 11’s rocking of our nation is what really prompted our involvement in this whole process. On June 24, 2002, President Bush declared 'peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born.' On April 30, 2003, the United States, the U.N., European Union, and Russia presented a 'Roadmap' to Palestinian statehood within three years. At the time, it was not implemented.

The process of the US being involved in Middle Eastern politics is a touchy, but I think necessary one. Are there risks involved for us by “putting our nose in”? Always. But there are also always risks involved by not getting involved. Our nation has been incredibly blessed with wealth, a relatively stable political and social system, a great deal of homeland security, and a great deal of power to influence the rest of our planet. The fact of the matter is that we can choose to either use this wealth, stability, and power to reach out and help the struggling nations of our world, or not. And by struggling, I’m talking politically, economically, and practically. Is prudence called for? Of course. Much as we’d like to, we simply can’t solve all the world’s problems. There will continue to be war, strife, hunger, pain, and so much more. But I firmly believe it is a right and a duty of ours to use the greatness of our nation, to the best of our ability, to transform those who have not been so blessed.

Our country was founded on the chief principles of Faith, Family, and Freedom. I think we take these too much for granted. When we have been given good gifts, we must be willing to reach out a hand to those who have not been. The fact is that there are people everywhere – just like us, in that they are “ordinary” citizens of a country – who are living lives of brokenness. I believe our involvement in the Middle East peace talks is step, a hand reaching out because we care about the victimized citizens of these countries. It’s most often these innocent ones who suffer. Because we go about our daily lives here filled with comfort and convenience does not mean we can forget how different life is elsewhere.

So in short, should the US remain involved in the Middle East peace talks? I believe so. This is not to say that every move we make, or have made, has been a wise one, or that every decision is either. But so much is about the motives. When I did my Extempore Speech at the county level this spring, I spoke on the “3 people I would most like to meet in the history of the world, and why”. The three individuals I choose to speak on were very diverse and different, but had one great things in common: their selflessness. It was the thread that tied them all together. I think is poignant that this thread can be tied in to this topic also.

And while we are called to put forth our best efforts in bringing peace to struggling nations, we have to remember that peace anywhere begins at home. In our homes and in our hearts. We must continually revaluate whether or not our moves here reflect the same generosity we are striving for abroad. Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke words of wisdom to our country when she said:

'The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion

because if a mother can kill her own child,
what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me?
There is nothing between.'

Looking inside ourselves is the key. Mother Teresa’s powerful words are a perfect closing thought for us this morning. This one woman, who will go down in history for her contributions to world peace, reminded us: 'If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.' Thank you."

Soli Deo Gloria!


Laura Therese Cecilia said...

Dear Claire,
Your speech was quite excellent (as my dad would say: ask the judges to write a good speech on the same topic in 45 minutes!) Even though you did not get superior, you accepted your A of E with perfect grace (just like a real lady!)

Love, your friend,
Laura Therese Cecilia

Claire said...

Oh, Laura, you are so sweet. Thanks for the encouragement and for being a true friend. And congrats to you and Mary on your fabulous job. :) I was so proud of you both!

Claire Joann Mary

Anonymous said...

Your blog is beautiful and so encouraging!
Thank you!

Claire said...

Bryant, thank you! You are very kind. I just visited yours, and it's lovely too. I love your blog name. Actually, I think I may have visited you once or twice before now, as it rings a bell somewhere. :) Anyway...simply beautiful.

Just curious... how did you find my blog?


Anonymous said...

Hi again!
I visit Bethany Wissmann's blog every so often, and I saw your comment on her most recent post.
I will visit your blog again soon!

Anonymous said...

I havent seen a better speech
i dont think wrote this
u took it out of the net and pasted it on ur blog

Claire said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure if your comment is flattery, accusation, or both. :-) But no, I really did write the speech myself in 45 minutes. I would never want to falsely attribute another's work to my name!