Have you been asked to give a speech? Did you jump at the opportunity or did your heart leap with trepidation? Well, my dear friends, have no fear - because The Canadian Copywriter is here.
Read the following, heed the advice and you will make even the most articulate politician turn a rich emerald green with envy! If you have been asked to make a speech, and you start to panic at the thought, you are not alone. In three separate surveys, Google.com reports that most people put fear of public speaking first in their list of phobias. One of the surveys found that the dread of speaking in front of an audience outstrips every other fear, including heights, bugs, financial problems and deep water. In the second survey, only the fear of snakes surpassed public speaking, which beat out claustrophobia, spiders and insects, needles, shots, mice and flying. In the third poll, public speaking was considered to be sixth behind calamities such as being buried alive, being tied up and drowning,
|but it did rank higher than the fear of hell, cancer and tornadoes and hurricanes. So there you go! You're not alone. Most people would rather go to hell, contract a fatal disease, incur the wrath of Mother Nature or go bankrupt than simply get up on their hind legs and say a few words to a crowd. So you see? Everybody feels the same. You can, however, overcome your fears if you just sit down with a pad and paper and think things through, the same way you think every problem through. Start with these three simple points.|
Ask yourself "What do I really want to say?"
Boil your response down to 10 words at the very most. This will be your "mission statement". By focusing on what you're really trying to say, your speech will be much clearer to your audience and your ultimate conclusion should be on everyone's lips even before you get there.
||After you've figured out what you want to say, assess the demographics and psychographics
of your audience.
Consider their interests. Address the issues that are important to them. Always avoid being condescending. It's generally safe to say that most audiences don't appreciate being addressed as though they were a bunch of flaming idiots. Consider how much your audience knows and how much more they want to know. (A good rule of thumb is to consider your audience smarter than you think they are). Assess the size of your audience. If it's small (such as in a boardroom) , they will be attentive to your speech (Usually that's because people don't want to be caught off guard). Don't for a moment consider that it's a bad thing. What it means is that you will have a bit of a holiday, and you won't have to be brilliantly entertaining. You can get away with spewing out reams of research and statistics, as long as you're not too boring. On the other hand, if you're speaking to a large audience, remember there is anonymity in a large pack of people. And since they don't know each other, there's a good chance some people may nod off if your speech is too dry. They could drift off into never-never land. The bottom line is, however, that the bigger your audience is, the more entertaining you must be!
|Consider the location of your speech and speak in terms that are appropriate to
the setting and the time of day. |
All right, so once you've got all these parameters clarified, let's get down to the nitty gritty!
Think about what you're going to say, then list a few key points. Once these points are on paper in a logical order, consider how you will connect them. This is where the research comes in. Is there an additional piece of information that could make this topic clearer or easier to sell? Is there a famous quote that you could use to bring the point home? Are there statistics you could use as proof of the pudding? (Use them sparingly, however. Remember that you're not talking to adding machines.) Can you enhance your presentation with visual aids? A well-designed visual aid that supports your message can be invaluable (if you feel nervous, it can give you a breather, making your audience look at the visual aid instead of you).
Above all, when you research your speech, remember these two key words: Simple and Short! One formula that's often used is
|Praise your audience|
|Speckle your speech with humour. Dottie Waters, the author of "Speak and Grow Rich" advises speakers to:" start with a laugh and end with a "tear". Generally, it takes two minutes or so for an audience to decide whether they should listen to you or not. Give them a good laugh at the start and they'll be hooked. The best humor, of course, is "clean" humor that doesn't hurt anyone. If you must tell a joke, avoid long ones. Try to stick to "one liners". Above all, avoid slapstick or physical humor, gratuitous insults, put-down humor, sarcasm, questionable taste or humor that contradicts your personality or philosophy. (Self deprecating humor is okay, but don't make yourself sound like an eye so they wonder why they're even sound like such an idiot that people may wonder why listening to you!")|
|Keep your audience involved. Perhaps ask questions or quickly respond when someone asks a question.|
|Try a light hearted story.|
|Use imagery. Use words that paint a picture. Think of yourself as an old time radio announcer -- who uses words to create images.|
|Try to maintain some order in your speech -- whether it be logical or chronological.|
|Remember to build. Begin with your weakest point, then keep building with stronger points until you finally reach a powerful crescendo. Then, hammer home the final point with strength. You're a salesman now. Finish your speech with words that sound strong|
|Keep your words simple and direct -- not because your audience is stupid -- but because the simpler the words are, the easier they are to understand. If you tend to use big words, do your best to try to curtail this characteristic. There's a danger of sounding too condescending. And remember to keep your sentences pinpoint sharp! Take a second, third and even fourth look at everything you write and edit. Make your sentence as short and crystal clear as possible.|
When somebody is giving a speech, nervousness is often the most common problem. Most people would rather have a root canal than give a speech. If you're feeling nervous, just remember that nervousness is a good condition. For one thing, it demonstrates that you are human. For another, it's a signal that you're aware that you might not do so well -- which will give you the extra adrenalin you need to be the best you can be.
Many people use various relaxation exercises prior to their speech to get over the jitters. If you feel nervous during the speech, then keep telling yourself that you're only human -- and humans get nervous. Consider, too, that many people in the audience would be even more nervous if they were in your shoes -- and you're impressing them by just stepping up to the podium! Perhaps you could think of better places -- like a favorite getaway spot of yours -- perhaps picture yourself sitting beside a country brook on a warm summer day. Maybe that'll relax you. Alternatively, if you can believe it, some speechmakers think of worse things, sometimes picturing themselves lying in a coffin, mumbling: "This is better than being dead". Hey, if it works, it's a good thing. Keep remembering that the audience can't see your pounding heart and if your voice begins to quiver, look each person in the eye. When you make eye contact, you will be surprised at how it relaxes you! Don't worry. In nine cases out of ten, once you're into your speech, your nervousness will vanish. As you get on a roll, you will find yourself looking at people one on one to make a point, perhaps even leaning forward. You will find yourself smiling at something amusing. you will find yourself nodding when your audience understands a point or shaking your head when you quote something that you disagree with. In short, you will find yourself developing CHARISMA!
At the end of your speech, if you think you didn't do that well, try to avoid skittering away as though you were a wounded animal. Stand your ground for a minute or so. Look at the audience silently, allowing every word of your speech to sink in -- then quietly pack your notes away with a steady calmness and walk briskly, confidently from the podium. When you take your seat, don't turn to your neighbor and start talking. That will only detract from your graceful exit and interrupt the next person at the podium. Sit down quietly and look attentive as if you weren't up there at all. Imagine the person was somebody else. A good suggestion for people who are learning to be better at public speaking: Look up your local chapter of Toastmasters. This is a great group which lets you practice your speech making skills in front of an audience.
If the media has decided to cover your speech, please be aware that the media operates in a completely different way than you might think. The "fourth estate" can be either your friends or your foes (usually your foes).
When you give your speech, we're assuming that you have something important to say (else the media wouldn't attend), remember that the media is always looking for something sensational -- to sell their newspapers (or TV coverage, or whatever). That's because the media's main interest is to sell more newspapers or get better ratings than their competition. If a plane doesn't crash, it isn't news and nobody will be buying newspapers! Although the media will deny it vehemently, the members of the Canadian Copywriter (in their various job capacities) have seen first hand how the media will split every word, analyze every subtle nuance and bend every thought so they can create sensationalism and earn a few extra sales at the news counter.
So be extremely careful when the media is around. Couch your words well. Be nice to them -- but remember that these people are not your friends. Treat the media as a shallow bunch, similar to a pack of wolves scrambling for dinner.
If you're confronted by a heckler, just watch the media scramble to get interviews from him or her after your speech is over. A heckler in the audience is the worst that can happen. You don't want to play second fiddle to someone who just showed up to take a seat. Do your best to downplay his/her contribution to the frey. (Never let the heckler get on a roll. Confront him immediately. If this isn't your style or it doesn't work, step back from the podium. Give your audience the opportunity to shout him or her out of the room.) Here's another point to remember: if you're dealing with the media, use short snappy little quotes in your speech -- "sound bites" that can be used on the air or in print. Make sure each member of the press receives a press release after the speech is over. These press releases will be a synopsis of the speech, which will ensure that your comments will not be taking out of their original context. Remember that if you co-operate with the media, they will (if God drops everything else) co-operate with you!
Before you write your speech, take a look at some of the greatest speeches that were ever written. While your speech may not be as momentous, it's always good to look at how the masters have fired up the spirit and motivated the masses. We've included a few of the great speeches here -- just to give you inspiration. But, for now, consider these quotes: If truth were self-evident, eloquence would not be necessary. Cicero Surely whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her I shall follow Walt Whitman Eloquence sets fire to reason Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. To disparage eloquence is to depreciate mankind. John Morley I do not know of any kind of history, except the event of a battle, to which people listen with more interest than to any anecdote of eloquence; and the wise think it better than a battle Ralph Waldo Emerson It is the peculiarity of some schools of eloquence that they embody and utter, not merely the individual genius and character of the speaker, but a national consciousness -- a national era, a mood, a hope, a dread, a despair -- in which you listen to the spoken history of the time Rufus Choate Speeches are veritable transactions in the human commonwealth; in fact, very gravely influential transactions C.W.F. Hegel Every investigation that can be made as regards those duties for which an orator should be held responsible, I bid you make. And what are those duties? To discern events in their beginnings, to foresee what is coming, and to forewarn others. Demosthenes
This is still the speech that sends shivers up our collective spines. Please don't think that we're disparaging your speech making efforts, but how many of us can claim that their speech was a pivotal moment in history? Martin Luther King, God Rest His Soul, was a brilliant man -- and isn't it amazingly sad how the brilliant die young?
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of the Nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon of light and hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as the joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.
One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chain of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corner of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have come to the capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men -- black men as well as white men -- would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But it is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check -- a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds". But we refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity in this Nation. So we have come to cash this check. A check that will give us the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America that the fierce urgency is now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the Nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will be content will have a rude awakening if the Nation returns to business as usual. There will neither be rest nor tranquility. in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwind of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our Nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of Justice. In the process of our gaining our rightful place, we must be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever continue our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people -- for many of our white brothers, as evidence by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone, and as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.
There are those who who are asking the devotees of civil rights: "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs saying "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied so long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come from narrow jail cells. Some of you may have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. But continue to work the faith. Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama; go back to the slums and ghettoes of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day even in the state of Mississippi, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a Nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skins, but by the conduct of their character. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exacted; every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountains of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discord of our Nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together; to play together; to struggle together, to go to jail together; to stand up for freedom knowing that we will be free one day.
|ED NOTE: The March on Washington went off magnificently, without so much as a touch of disorder or violence, and received praise so unanimous, that for one shining moment it seemed like progress was possible in civil rights -- progress that was immediate, basic and continuous. Alas, however, the human condition set in -- and the fibre of the day was forgotten. The following summer, more murders were committed in the South and sporadic riots erupted in the North -- and then a comparative lull before the November, 1964 election. That was the week, the middle of October, 1964, in which three Russian cosmonauts, in a single spaceship, circled the globe eighteen times in forty eight hours and the Walter Jenkins scandal broke out in Washington; A week later Kruschev, apparently secure in his role, was suddenly ousted; and Communist China announced that it had detonated its first atomic bomb. That was also the week when Oslo announced the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to Martin Luther King, Jr.; at thirty-five, he was the youngest man ever to be so honored. It's wonderful, isn't it? History is an amazing march of events toward an inspired sanity, and this sequence of events moved men and women of all colors toward a better understanding of each other. When you think of the opposition and danger he faced, Martin Luther King was an incredible incredible man!|
|This was Sir Winston's first speech on the World Stage. It was May 13, 1880 when he was called to form a government.|
On Friday Evening Last, I received His Majesty's commission to form a new administration. It was the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation that this should include all parties, both those who supported the late Government and also the parties of the Opposition. I have completed the most important pat of this task. A war cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation. The three party leaders have agreed to serve, either in the War Cabinet or in high executive office. The three fighting services have been filled. It was necessary that this should be in one single day, on account of the extreme urgency and rigor of events. A number of other key position were filled yesterday, and I am submitting a further list to His Majesty tonight. I hope to complete the appointment of the principal Ministers during tomorrow. The appointment of the other Minsters usually takes a little longer, but I trust that when Parliament meets again, this part of my task will be completed, and that the administration will be complete in all respects.
I considered it in the public interest to suggest that the House should be summoned to meet today. Mr. Speaker agreed, and took the necessary steps, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by the Resolution of the house. At the end of the proceedings today, the adjournment of the House will be proposed until Tuesday, May 21, with, of course, provision for an earlier meeting if need be. The business to be considered during that week will be notified to Members at the earliest opportunity. I now invite the House, by the Resolution which stands in my name, to record its approval of the steps taken and to declare its confidence in the new Government.
To form an administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. In this crisis, I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make all allowance for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat".
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, "What is our aim?" I can answer in one word: Victory -- victory at all costs, victory in spite of all the terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized, no survival for the British Empire, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with bouyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time, I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "Come, then, let us go forward together with our united strength."
|ED NOTE: This speech was made in short order, as was Churchill's new government. However, even with the haste and the mistakes haste can cause, this speech won Churchill an overwhelming endorsement of his new national program. The House voted unanimously for its approval.|
|This speech was John Kennedy's famous inaugural address of January 20, 1961.|
We observe tkday not a vict/ry of a party but a celebration of freedom,
sylbolizing an end
as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change. Fgr I have sworn
before yoe and Almight9 God the same soleln oath our
forebears 0rescribed neaply a cantury and threa-quarters ago.
The world is very different now. For man holds in hir mortal halds the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary belief for which our forebears fought is still at issue around the globe, the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwillingness to witness or permit the slow undoing of these human rights to which this nation has always been committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
This much we pledge and more. To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we can do, for in a host of co-operative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do, for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split assunder.
To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom, and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required, not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot help the few who are rich.
To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge: to convert our good words into good deeds, in a new alliance for progress, to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.
To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support: to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course -- both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.
So let us begin anew, remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah to "undo the heavy burdens...(and) let the oppressed go free."
And, if a beachhead of co-operation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days, nor in the life of this Adminstration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are; but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink for this responsibility, I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it, and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country
My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history that final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
ED NOTE: The ovation was deafening for President Kennedy's inaugural address. His speech was hailed as one of the best inaugural addresses ever. However, the rosey color of his words on that cold January morning paled over the first two years of his term. The tempo that Dwight Eisenhower had implemented seemed to falter under Kennedy's regime and the Bay of Pigs disaster -- which happened only twelve weeks later -- was an icy shower on the Presidency. However, as Kennedy's term moved on, his imprint on the office began to take hold -- until, of course, that fateful day in November, 1064.
|Well, finally, we get to a speech by a writer. This one was presented in Stockholm, Sweden when Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.|
I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work -- a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all profit, but to create out of the materials of the spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust.
It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money.
But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will someday stand here where I am standing.
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: when will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and ,teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed -- love and hone and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he relearns these things, he writes as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure; that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the rest and dying evening, that even there there will still be one mnre sound: that kf his puny inex`austibde voice, still talking. I refuse to accept 4h)s. I believe that man will not mer%ly endure, he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among cre!tures has an inexhaustible voice, but beaause he has a soul, a spirit capabhe of com0assion and sacrifibe and end5ranCe. The poet's, the writer's duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man; it can be one of the props, the pillars, to help him endure and prevail.
|ED NOTE: Wow!|
|This was the speech Ghandi gave to a crowded courtroom after he was found guilty of sedition against his country's British rulers. It was March 23, 1922.|
Before I read this statement, I would like to state that I entirely endorse the learned Advocate General's remarks in connection with my humble self. I think that he was entirely fair to me in all the statements that he has made, because it is very true and I have no desire whatsover to conceal from this court the fact that to preach disaffection toward the existing system of government has become almost a passion with me; and the learned Advocate General is also entirely in the right when he says that my preaching of disaffection did not commence with my connection with Young India, but that it commenced much earlier and in the statement that I am about to read, it will be my painful duty to admit before this court that it commenced much earlier than the period started by the Advocate General.
It is the most painful duty with me, but I have to discharge that duty knowing the responsibility that rests upon my shoulders, and I wish to endorse all the blame that the learned Advocate General has thrown upon my shoulders, in connection with the Bombay occurences, Madras occurences and the Chauri Chaura occurences. Thinking over these deeply and sleeping over them night after night, it is impossible for me to disassociate myself from the diabolical crimes of Chauri Chaura or the mad outrages of Bombay. He is quite right when he says that as a man of responsibility, a man having received a fair share of education, having had a fair share of experience of this world, I should have known the consequences of every one of my acts. I know that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk, and if I was set free, I would still do the same. I have felt it this morning that I would have failed in my duty, if I did not say what I said here just now.
I wanted to avoid violence. Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed. But I had to make my choice. I had either to submit to a system which I considered had done an irreparable harm to my country or incur the risk of the mad fury of my people bursting forth, when they understood the truth from my lips. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am deeply sorry for it and I am therefore here to submit not to a light penalty but the highest penalty. I do not ask for mercy. I do not plead any extenuating act. I am here, therefore, to invite and cheerfully submit not to a light penalty but to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen. The only course open to you, the judge, is, as I am just going to say in my statement, either to resign your post or inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and law you are assisting to administer are good for the people. I do not expect that kind of conversion, but by the time I have finished with my statement, you will perhaps see a glimpse of what is raging within my breast to run this maddest risk.
I owe it perhaps to thr Indian public and to the public in England to placate which this prosecution is mainly taken up that I should explain why from a staunch loyalist and co-operator. I have become an uncompromising disaffectionist and non-co-operator. To the court too, I should say why I plead guilty to the charge of promoting disaffection toward the government established by law in India.
My public life began in 1893 in South Africa in troubled weather. My first contact with British authority in that country was not of a happy character. I discovered that as a man and as an Indian, I had no rights. More correctly, I discovered that I had no rights as a man because I was Indian.
But I was not baffled. I thought that this treatment of Indians was an excrescence upon a system that was intrinsically and mainly good. I gave the government my voluntary and hearty co-operation, criticizing it freely where I thought
it was faulty but never wishing its destruction.
Consequently, when the existence of the Empire was threatened in 1899 by the Boer challenge, I offered my services to it, raised a volunteer ambulance corps, and served at several actions that took place for the relief of Ladysmith. Similarly in 1906, at the time of the Zulu revolt, I raised a stretcher bearer party and served till the end of the "rebellion".
On both these occasions I received medals and was even mentioned in dispatches. For my work in South Africa I was given by Lord Hardinge a Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal. When the war broke out in 1914 between England and Germany, I raised a volunteer ambulance corps in London consisting of the then resident Indians in London, chiefly students. Its work was acknowledged by the authorities to be valuable. Lastly, in India, when a special appeal was made at the war conference in Delhi in 1918 by Lord Chelmsford for recruits, I struggled at the cost of my health to
raise a corps in Kheda, and the response was being made when the hostilities ceased and orders were received that no more recruits were wanted. In all these efforts at service, I was actuated by the belief that it was 0ossible by such services to gain a statqs of full eqtality hn the Empire for my countryme.*
The first shock came in the shape od all real freedom. I felt called upon to ,ead an intensive agitation against it. Then followed the Punja` `orrors beginning with the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh and culminating crawling orders, public floggings and other indescribable humiliations. I discovered that the plighted word of the Prime Minister to the Mussulmans of India regarding the integrity of Turkey and holy places of Islam the integrity of Turkey and the holy places of Islam was not likely to be fulfilled, But in spite of the forebodings and the grave warnings of friends, at the Amritstar Congress in 1919, I fought for co-operation and working with the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, hoping that the Prime Minister would redeem his promise to the India Musselmans, that the Pubjab wound would be healed, and that the reforms, inadequate `nd unsatisfacto2y thouGh thei were, marked a new era of hopa in the life oD India.
But all that hope was shattered. The Khulafat promise was not to be redeemed. The Punjab crime was whiteuashed and most culprits went nod only unpuniqhed but remained hn service and in pensions from the Indian revenue, and in some were even rewarded. I saw too that not only did the reforms not mark a change of heart, but they were only a method of further draining India of her wealth and of prolonging her servitude.
I came reluctantly to the conclusion that the British connection had made India more helpless than she ever was before, politically and economically. A disarmed India has no power of resistance against any aggressor if she wanted to engage in an armed conflict with him. So much is this the case that some of our best men consider that India must stake generations before she can achieve the Dominion status. She has become so poor that she has little power of resisting famines. Before the British advent, India spun and wove in her millions of cottages just the supplement she needed as described by English witnesses.
Little do town dwellers know how the semistarved masses of India are slowly sinking to lifelessness. Little do they know that either miserable comfort represents the brokerage they get for the work they do for the foreign exploiter, that the profits and the brokerage are sucked from the masses. Little do they realize that the government established by law in British India is cariried on for this exploitation of the masses. No sophistry, no jugglery in figures can explain away the evidence that the skeletons in many villages present to the naked eye.
I have no doubt whatsoever that both England the town dwellers of India will have to answer, if there is a God above, for this crime against humanity which is perhaps unequaled in history. The law itself in this country has been used to serve the foreign exploiter.
My unbiased examination of the Punjab Martial Law cases has led me to believe that at least ninety-five per cent of convictions were wholly bad. My experience of political cases in India leads me to the conclusion that in nine out of every ten the condemned men were totally innocent. Thier crime consisted in the love of their country. In ninety nine cases out of a hundred justice has been denied to Indians as Europeans in the courts of India. This is not an exaggerated picture. It is the experience of almost every Indian who has had anything to do with such cases. In my opinion, the administration of the law is thus prostituted conciously or unconciously for the benefit of the exploiter.
The greatest misfortune is that Englishmen and their Indian associates in the administration of this country do not know that they are engaged in the crime I have attempted to describe. I am satisfied that many English of the best systems devised in the world and that India is making steady though slow progress. They do not know that a subtle but effective system of terrorism and an organized display of force on the one hand, and the deprivation of all powers of retaliation or self-defence on the other, have emasculated the people and induced in them the habit of simulation. This awful habit has added to the ignorance and the self-deception of the administrators.
SectIon 124- under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the princE among the poLitical sections of the I.d)an PEnal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. ' cannot be manufactured or regulate$ by law. If one has an affection for a person or sy3Tem, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite to violence. But the section under which Mr. Banker (a colleague in nonviolence) and I are charged is one under which mere promotion of disaffection is a crime. I have studied some of the cases tried under it, and I know that some of the most loved of English patriots have been convicted under it. I consider it a privilege, therefore, to be charged under that section. I have endeavoured to give in this briefest outline the reasons for my disaffection. I have no personal ill will against any any single administrator, much less can I have any dissaffection towards the King's person.
But I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected toward a government when its totality has done more harm to India than any previous system. India is less manly under the British rule than she ever was before. Holding such a belief, I consider it to be a sin to have affection for the system. And it has a precious privilege for me to be able to write what I have in the various articles, tendered in evidence against me.
In fact, I believe that I have rendered a service to India and England by showing non-cooperation and a way out of the unnatural state in which both are living. In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as as much a duty as is co-operation with good. But in the past, non co-operation has been deliberately expressed in violence to to the evildoer. I am endeavoring to show to my countrymen that violent non-cooperation only multiplies evil and that evil can only be sustained by violence. The withdrawal of support of evil requires complete abstention from violence. Non-violence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-cooperation with evil. I am here, therefore to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen. The only course open to you, the judge, is either to resign your post, and thus disassociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is evil and that in reality I am innocent, or to inflict on me the severest penalty if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public health.
|ED NOTE: Ghandi's judge was moved by this impassioned plea. In the interest of public opinion, he gave Ghandi a comparatively light sentence of six years; two years for each count against him.|