My toastmasters group recently had an International Speech Competition that I decided to compete in. The International Speeches are meant to be uplifting and universal in nature, so I decided to do a speech about the current global situation. Here is my first draft of the speech. It is written out in full sentences as I was striving for impact and I come to realize, while pursuing my MBA, that words can have a greater impact on one’s ideas than just about anything else. While there are other mediums to express data, an idea is still best expressed with the written word.
- The World is at a Crossroads
Current worldwide economic distress has reached acute levels. For the last three years, we’ve heard about foreclosures all over America and Europe. We have seen fellow Americans without jobs and without homes. This has caused large amounts of turmoil and suffering. What has recently become particularly painful is that the world-wide cost of ‘just living’ has dramatically risen. This increase is dire for developing nations. Rice has gone up 78%, cotton by 147%, and food, in general, by nearly 100% in the last five years. In countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Haiti the average daily income is $1.75. The average citizen used to spend $1.00 per day just on food. Now they are forced to spend $2.
Gross inequality has always existed, but the internet has made it possible to see it in real time. Thanks to Google Earth, the people of Bahrain have seen pictures of the opulent palaces held by the royal family, while the vast majority live in squalor and cramped living spaces. In Egypt, their economic woes have toppled an autocratic dictatorship of nearly thirty years, with the uprising organized and coordinated on Facebook and Twitter. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi has attacked his own people and is still fighting to maintain his tyranny. Protests have spread to Saudi Arabia against the widespread corruption, lack of infrastructure, and outright theft perpetrated against the Saudi people by their “rulers.” All of these injustices we can see instantly and vividly. What is worse is that we are partially to blame for them.
In the Middle East, America’s actions are unconscionable. We support the ruling tyranny in Saudi Arabia. We support the ruling tyranny in Bahrain. And until push came to shove, we supported Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. Not until the Egyptian people were on the brink of starvation and were willing to be outright killed by their overlords did we “decide” to lend our support to the Egyptian people. In the name of securing oil supplies for ourselves, for maintaining stable shipping lines we have condoned, time and again, tyrants, dictators, and countless atrocities. In this respect, our Middle East foreign relations are not much different than China’s relationship with North Korea.
While this sounds dire, I believe we have but only lost our way. We still possess the ability to change. America was founded on principles of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. We have welcomed those yearning to breathe free and we have supported countless movements for Democracy in many, many parts of the world. While we have failed, we have also succeeded. Vietnam was a visual example of our greatest failure. We hope that Iraq will be an example of success. Only time will tell. What has happened is that we have gotten tired. We have gotten lazy. We have seen that more often than not, the fight for democracy involves untold amounts of hardship, blood, and sacrifice. We have found that we cannot stomach the hardship needed to promote democracy unfailingly throughout the world. And so we have compromised.
As Americans one and all, I urge you to find the strength to carry on. I urge you to find hope and to shoulder the great burden thrust upon our shoulders. America was and continues to be a shining paragon of light for democracy around the world. More importantly, I urge you to truly consider yourself not only as a citizen of America, a great experiment in Democracy suited only to the temperament of North America, but as a citizen of the world. We need to dig deep within ourselves and find the ability to continue, to persevere, and to promote democracy throughout the world. We need to promote Democracy unfailingly, constantly, and completely. For through Democracy and solidarity alone, is there any chance that oppression throughout the world will be repressed. The time has come for America, and Americans, to rethink our position in the Middle East. We cannot promote Democracy for the people of Iraq and deny it for the people of Saudi Arabia. Our allies must realize that promotion of their lesser forms of tyranny, dictatorship, and feudalism is not our end goal. It is but a situation that we haven’t changed yet. Yet change we will.