The Icebreaker – Getting to Know You


BEFORE SPEECH:

I would like to express the gratification that I have in coming to these Toastmaster meetings. For at the core of what we do, we are judges, critics and bring our own personal biases and prejudices to the table. Good things all. To me, it is truly a welcome experience. For the purpose of public speaking and presenting to audiences, a multitude of individual types must be accounted for and this controlled venue is a great laboratory for us mad scientists to conduct our experiments. *Insert your own maniacal laughter here.*

Now, I understand and accept that we all have our own views, opinions and beliefs (acceptances in my case) and I will refrain from discussing things with any sort of theological basis. My speech is purely of my own devising and with a regard to keeping things secular in design, I will also refrain from mentioning politics or the political platform as a whole. I will at time reference quotes from certain individuals whose wisdom and insight serves my purpose (or lack thereof), but the context of the words will be the foundation for their usage, not because I may or may not agree with the individuals personal world views. That metaphorical piñata can keep its hide intact and its sickly sweet entrails hidden away as far as I am concerned.

Before presenting my Icebreaker speech, I wish to state that I realize that some of you may absolutely despise me at the end of the approximately ten minutes I have been allotted to speak. Some of you may find a measure of respect for what I say but deem it rather too hardline to espouse completely. And some of you will nod in understanding, hearing your own thoughts echoed back to you in the sound of my voice. But if I look to accomplish anything through the words soon to follow, it must be this, that I challenged, questioned and stimulated you, and I trust that you will leave here today with something to dwell upon. Even if it is only, “Wow, I really don’t like that guy because of (insert your own erroneous and completely baseless accusations here): We all know what a standup and stellar fellow I am“ 

So with my disclaimer laid bare, shall we begin?

Ladies and Gentleman, Fellow Toastmasters, friends, guests and viewers, Hail to you all and good afternoon. Welcome and thank you for attending today, in which this, my first prepared presentation will allow you a more informative perspective on a subject that I am intimately familiar with. Myself. Not perhaps in the usual way you are used but I’ll admit, I have never truly been anything close to usual.

I would like to first say, as a truism through both personal experience AND through the viewing of our world at large; that most people are not naturally inclined to subjective introspection, more than the occasional daily horoscope or an oft-incorrectly attributed quote found on social media. I stand proud in affirming that, I am not one of these people.

(REMOVED) But I’ll digress this once, and for those interested, I am a Cancer, and according to my general traits attributed by this all defining astrological sign, I am emotional and loving, intuitive and imaginative, shrew and cautious, protective and sympathetic. Which of course, absolutely sounds like me… and everyone else in one way or another. *Insert eye rolling here* And where quotes are concerned, Voltaire never used the phrase, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” What he did say was, “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.” This being from his Essay on Tolerance. The aforementioned misquoted phrase was from Evelyn Beatrice Hall who wrote a Biography titled “The Friends of Voltaire.” I could go on and on of misquotes from the dead, whom are sadly no longer able to defend themselves, but back to the topic at hand.

I am aware of my strengths and my weaknesses, my triumphs, my shortcomings, my bias’s and prejudice and I judge and criticize myself according to these. I have an intuitively pragmatic mind, and yet am completely comfortable with the proud fact that I am just another animal, carnal in my existence and instinctual in design. To paraphrase a Statement (#7) from a most magnificent chap, the late Anton Szandor LaVey; “Man is just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours, and do to his “enlightenment and intellectual development” has become the most vicious animal of all.”

And it is of the aforementioned criticisms, judgments and bias’s that I wish to speak on. Words that have been given completely negative connotations in current years. We hear refutation of them all the time, every day, most noisily from discontented youths but also from others lacking the strength to stand behind their decisions. Lack of accountability and self- awareness is what I speak of.

Phrases such as;

“DON’T JUDGE ME”

“Stop hating!”

“You don’t know me or what I’ve been through!”

“Everyone’s a critic.” (insert wallowing sarcasm here)

“Don’t judge a person until you walk a mile in their shoes.”

Personally, I find these rather pathetic rebukes to be in poor taste and extremely, judge-worthy. They not only presume to tell me that any kind of discernment based upon the reality presented is close minded and hypocritical, but in the same breath seek to act whichever way they wish without consequence or effort of accountability. I AM a judge, a hater, a critic and no I will not walk a mile in your shoes and I will never ask you to walk a mile (or any length of distance for that matter) in mine. This is not to say I am without compassion, measures of kindness and certainly not without empathy, for these are qualities I naturally seem to have an abundance of. I’d really just rather not risk acquiring some kind of fungus, or limp about on the awkward gait that would come from loco-motoring in ill-fitting shoes.

(REMOVED) Now, it should be understood and accepted that a certain amount of tact and respectful deliverance for observational reviews is best utilized when looking to inspire personal development (as we are here in Toastmasters), the old axiom of how taking your medicine is easier with sugar than with… a much less desirable substance. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we are doing anything but simply judging our fellow Toastmaster, peers and more importantly ourselves. If any of us truly felt that this was wrong, why would we keep coming? Perhaps we are all psychosomatically motivated sadomasochists. Say that nine times fast!

(REMOVED) I joined Toastmasters because I seek to improve myself in the forum of public speaking. And I am here to more or less receive insightful criticisms and to expand upon my experience with productive individuals who are similarly inclined. Whether they are pleasant and favorable deductions, simply questions of character or personal preferences that lend themselves to disdainful assumptions, my skin is thick and my stomach firm.

(REMOVED) Now, on the flip side, I WILL in turn evaluate you based upon the feedback presented. If they are sound examinations with an air of wisdom and wrought with logic and reason, I’ll thank you and delve further into the opportunity to become a better me. But if the criticism is based upon ignorance and false dichotomies, more emotionally based than rationally lucid… I’ll still smile, and thank you. But in my young life to date, I have already encountered more than enough of such “constructively open-minded suggestions” as it was once described to me. I’ll not seriously entertain such uneducated and bigoted viewpoints. I have no interest in such allowances.

To ask others not to judge, criticize or have biases/prejudices (read that as: opinion) is akin to someone saying, “What you think doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t place a value on anything.” Now, what I think may not matter to you, which is your right and privilege, but it certainly matters to me. If you’re a thief, for whatever reason, and I know it, should I not judge you and strive to be wary around you, knowing you’re prone to acts of kleptomania? No matter your cause or reason. And to the second implied statement concerning value, I am absolutely in opposition of. Everything should have a value (literal or figurative) and this is dependent upon your judgment, ability to critique and your biases and prejudices based upon experience which gives you the perspective and contrast necessary to define what is valuable to you. All of which I consider to be natural and intrinsically attributed to any creature of free-will. Whether people choose to use such free-will is obviously up to them.

Let us take the root of all judgment, that age old question debated since time immemorial. That of good and evil. And as this is a talk that pertains to myself, I will provide you with my definition, one that I have had since my youngest days, only slightly skewed from life experiences. For me, good is defined as that which I like and those things that promote and enhance my life, evil being just the opposite, things I don’t like and that detract from a happy, healthy, joy filled life. So simply put, good = what I do like, and evil = what I don’t. Cupcakes, unicorns and the smell of books, good. Paper-cuts, brussel-sprouts and people who talk in the theater, bad. I take responsibility for my definitions and the decisions to act upon them, which is rather easy when one champions justice, liberty and freedom. I create my own ethics, values and sources of inspiration through what I find pleasing, not from what someone or something else tells me I should. Now, I’ll be the first to admit this amount of personal responsibility isn’t for everyone. Most people are incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions and require outside influences to tell them what is right and wrong, good and evil. They desire to be absolved of the obligation and burden to think for themselves, and through this, in their failures and mistakes seek to blame others for their troubles. After all, someone else told them to do it, or to like it, or the reverse. Oh, if only we could save those poor little goats and simply be accountable for the seeds we have sown, instead of hastily laying the plow at another’s feet. Sadly, for most people this is not an option they entertain and the goats (metaphorically speaking in recent years though literally not so long ago) will continue to be implicated and denounced. I am of course, referencing the historical analogy of the scape-goat. I think the world could do with a healthy shock to the system in the form of growing the hell up and leaving the goats alone. But then, I have a fondness for goats. That cute little gruff and… anyway. Ever onward.

It should be apparent to all that we have become a society of the mediocre, the unjudged and the entitled. And are fast becoming something much worse.

(REMOVED) I have seen it in my youth and all through the times since then. I was that kid in high school who was at the mercy of group assignments because I was the one who wished to excel, or more appropriately refused to allow others to bring me down. And who benefited from that? Why, the lazy, lay about and unintelligent dregs with whom I had the misfortune of being stuck with. Another reason of course being that, unlike in the younger years of education where you got to pick your groups, the teachers in high school KNEW who the smart, productive kids were and placed them with the kids who had no initiative or drive. Whether to try and inspire through peer-education or whether they simply wished to pad the grade, I don’t know nor do I really care. At least I developed a discerning eye and the ability to competently judge a person’s character. And now, most of them are in lackluster positions in life, in unenviable jobs in unenviable life situations and I can only smirk and sigh contentedly.

(REMOVED) Which brings me to my next point. Some among you may have heard me use this term before, Stratification. And I will thusly define it as I have come to accept such the term and as it has been presented to me; To quote an article by Anton Szandor LaVey titled Pentagonal Revisionism; A Five Point Program, the topic of Stratification; “there can be no more myth of “equality” for all—it only translates to “mediocrity” and supports the weak at the expense of the strong. Water must be allowed to seek its own level without interference from apologists for incompetence. No one should be protected from the effects of his own stupidity.”

(REMOVED) This may seem cruel, and mean and course but I think that the world is creeping into a malaise of “everyone is naturally equal and should be afforded the same rights and allowances as everyone else, regardless of contributing value or not.” Which I find abhorrently offensive, and I think that you all should too.

Now, I am all FOR equality, equality of opportunity that is, which I feel is what our founding fathers meant with the words detailed in the opening paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson;

“We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable (later changed to self-evident by Benjamin Franklin) that all men are created equal and independent (the word independent was taken out), that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and unalienable ( this was later changed to; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights) that among these are Life (i.e. nobody should be allowed to just off you, a sound thing to advocate for any civilization), Liberty (freedom to do as you will unimpeded and unopposed by another, aka, no slavery or forced adherence to subjugation) and the Pursuit of Happiness (to develop, grow and strive to find happiness in whatever way you personally find appealing). That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. (In essence, that governing bodies democratically chosen from among the citizenry will be afforded the power and responsibility to secure and uphold these rights.)

We could no doubt debate the meaning of the statement and validity of my definitions presented but this is my accepted understanding of the opening address. This is what we would call the social contract, the general acceptance that all who live in our civilization should adhere to and wish to see upheld.

(REMOVED) So once again, back to Stratification.

And thus, back to equality. While you most certainly should have the right to succeed and grow according to your ability, or more specifically, your merits, you should also have the right to fail, be lazy, refuse to better yourself and generally be a miserable excuse for a human being. But leave me and the rest of the hard working, tax paying, law abiding members of society out of it. Don’t feel entitled to assistance from a system you will not take a part of, our tax dollars and support should go to those who, through no fault of their own have met with hard times and need temporary assistance. This is what the initial welfare system was designed to help combat during the time of the Great Depression. Granted, any individual having the personal desire to help those they wish with their own money, time and efforts should of course be free to do so. I personally do, on several occasions a year in fact. But I also don’t feel that this makes me a better person, I have no need for a good guy badge, a gold star or a You’re Fabulous sticker. Ok, maybe I’ll take the sticker. I do what I will because I find satisfaction and gratification in it. And it is THIS that I find to be worthy of pride. Intention, in point of fact is what I speak of. The intention to be happy in what I am doing. Not for anyone else, but for me. And to in turn be responsible for that happiness.

(REMOVED) What’s that you say? Don’t worry, no one actually said anything. I can just read your faces. Selfish I think, is the word you are all thinking of. And to you I simply must smile and say, “You’re right. Quite selfish.” But how is that a bad thing? Because I do what I wish, what I like and what I enjoy? For these reasons and more, I do it all the more fervently. But that must make me a terrible husband, and father, and friend, and team player. Right? If all I ever do is what I want to do? Well, all evidence to the contrary would say that it is you who is wrong. I hold myself 100% responsible for EVERYTHING I do. I weigh situations accordingly and choose the best option. My mistakes are my own, but so are my triumphs. What if my wife asks me to do something, and I really don’t want to do it? *eyebrow gaze* Do you really have to ask? I love my wife and value her happiness and why should I not help her if she needs it? Now, I am actually a person who receives happiness and joy from helping others, providing assistance and support to those I value and cherish, so it usually works itself out naturally.

(INSERT IF TIME ALLOWS) (REMOVED) Though I must strive to maintain awareness to the possibility of being taken advantage of. And I must be doubly careful to not be solipsistic, that is, to think that everyone feels and acts as I do and will treat me with the same respect, courtesy and allowances that I naturally do them. This is easier said than done and has caused me some difficulties in the past. But I have no illusions that everyone will or even CAN return the kindness I show them at first meeting. I’ll not waste my time and energy on people who have no cause or concern to return the courtesy presented to them

So, with all that said, I challenge you all to be a little more selfish, a little more judgmental, and a little more indulgent. But to also be accountable to not only yourself, but everyone affected by your actions. Not because others say you should, not because it’s what the fat cats and lifestyle profiteers think you need, but because to it makes you smile, and laugh and revel in the here and now. Cherish yourselves, show kindness to those deserving, take pride in being responsible to those who are responsible and critically. And I judge them to be good.

Thank you for listening, and pleasant day to you all.

 

 

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