The variety of speeches

On Thursday 21st June we have had a clear example of the variety of speeches that the new educational program “Pathways” can offer to all the members.

Moira Beaton introduced her second speech from the “Presentation Mastery” series – that is, “Evaluation and Feedback” –, entitled “The Sugar Trap”. Accompanied by a series of images, the main objective of the text was to illustrate the fact we are unaware of the real quantity of sugar we daily consume. First, she talked about the several illnesses an excessive amount of sugar could lead and the possible addictiveness it could cause. We all start to ingest sugar even before being born, when we are in our mother’s womb, because of what she eats, then we progress with all kinds of food. As an example of the huge quantity of sugar contained in a product, she mentioned Starbuck’s Frappuccino, which may have from 17 to 23 teaspoons of sugar. Then, she listed the several names under which sugar is hidden, in order not to write the “S” word on the labels and the ingredient lists, and how sugar is used by the industry – i.e. to absorb moisture, to preserve food, to extend the product life on the shelves, etc. She concluded stating she is not against sugar or its use, but she doesn’t like the hidden sugar, and she thinks we need to have the full control of the quantity we ingest every day.

Jacek Lasota started the series “Communicating on Video” with the speech “First Week”, whose theme was “Straight talk”. The first week quoted in the title refers to the World Cup’s one, and how the use of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has affected the matches. He listed the four main areas where it was used (1. if there was a goal or not; 2. if there was a penalty; 3. if a red card had to be used; 4. cases of mistaken identity) and affirmed he was very happy and satisfied by the positive effects it was having. This speech was very interesting to see because it was meant to be seen as a video rather than live during a club meeting. Watching Jacek could have seemed a little strange because he was sitting, he didn’t look straight to the audience and the body language and movements were obviously limited, but as I mentioned, the objective was different from the “classic speech”. Jacek showed us how Pathways could provide us the chance to experiment with new ways of communication: not only the classic ones but also those who are more connected with the modern types of verbal expression.

Finally, we had Neil McLure with his fifth “speech” from the “Interpretative Reading” series. This oratorical project was Mahatma Gandhi’s speech to Congress delivered on 8 August, 1942 in Bombay (now Mumbai) ahead of the Quit India Movement, in which he asked people to adopt ahimsa (non-violence) during the struggle for India’s independence from Britain. Neil chose this particular speech because some parts of it are relevant to nations still hoping to be rid of British Imperialism. The interpretation Neil gave of this powerful text was very effective, and here you may find the text he used, which is slightly modified only for time limit’s reason.

Before you discuss the resolution, let me place before you one or two things, I want you to understand two things very clearly and to consider them from the same point of view from which I am placing them before you. I ask you to consider it from my point of view, because if you approve of it, you will be enjoined to carry out all I say. It will be a great responsibility. There are people who ask me whether I am the same man that I was in 1920, or whether there has been any change in me. You are right in asking that question.

Let me, however, hasten to assure that I am the same Gandhi as I was in 1920. I have not changed in any fundamental respect. I attach the same importance to non-violence that I did then. If at all, my emphasis on it has grown stronger. There is no real contradiction between the present resolution and my previous writings and utterances.

Occasions like the present do not occur in everybody’s and but rarely in anybody’s life. I want you to know and feel that there is nothing but purest Ahimsa in all that I am saying and doing today. The draft resolution of the Working Committee is based on Ahimsa, the contemplated struggle similarly has its roots in Ahimsa. If, therefore, there is any among you who has lost faith in Ahimsa or is wearied of it, let him not vote for this resolution.

Let me explain my position clearly.

Ours is not a drive for power, but purely a non-violent fight for India’s independence. In a violent struggle, a successful general has been often known to effect a military coup and to set up a dictatorship. But under the Congress scheme of things, essentially non-violent as it is, there can be no room for dictatorship. A non-violent soldier of freedom will covet nothing for himself, he fights only for the freedom of his country. The Congress is unconcerned as to who will rule, when freedom is attained. The power, when it comes, will belong to the people of India, and it will be for them to decide to whom it placed in the entrusted. May be that the reins will be placed in the hands of the Parsis, for instance-as I would love to see happen-or they may be handed to some others whose names are not heard in the Congress today. It will not be for you then to object saying, “This community is microscopic. That party did not play its due part in the freedom’s struggle; why should it have all the power?” Ever since its inception the Congress has kept itself meticulously free of the communal taint. It has thought always in terms of the whole nation and has acted accordingly.

I believe that in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours. I read Carlyle’s French Revolution while I was in prison, and Pandit Jawaharlal has told me something about the Russian revolution. But it is my conviction that inasmuch as these struggles were fought with the weapon of violence they failed to realize the democratic ideal. In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.

Then, there is the question of your attitude towards the British. I have noticed that there is hatred towards the British among the people. The people say they are disgusted with their behaviour. The people make no distinction between British imperialism and the British people. To them, the two are one. We must get rid of this feeling. Our quarrel is not with the British people, we fight their imperialism. The proposal for the withdrawal of British power did not come out of anger. It came to enable India to play its due part at the present critical juncture It is not a happy position for a big country like India to be merely helping with money and material obtained willy-nilly from her while the United Nations are conducting the war. We cannot evoke the true spirit of sacrifice and valour, so long as we are not free. I know the British Government will not be able to withhold freedom from us, when we have made enough self-sacrifice. We must, therefore, purge ourselves of hatred. Speaking for myself, I can say that I have never felt any hatred. As a matter of fact, I feel myself to be a greater friend of the British now than ever before. One reason is that they are today in distress. My very friendship, therefore, demands that I should try to save them from their mistakes. As I view the situation, they are on the brink of an abyss. It, therefore, becomes my duty to warn them of their danger even though it may, for the time being, anger them to the point of cutting off the friendly hand that is stretched out to help them. People may laugh, nevertheless that is my claim. At a time when I may have to launch the biggest struggle of my life, I may not harbor hatred against anybody.

Another entertaining evening, as often happens at the Waverley Communicators meetings, and if you don’t want to miss what will happen at the next one, please come and visit us on 5th July.

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