Post # 315
We’ve just passed through another extended holiday season. You know, the season of sellers, resellers and retailers looking for methods of creating the desire of wants to exceed your needs and cash flow! We used to raise cows and one thing you learned in the field was to avoid stepping in the cow pies. It seems there must be a giant billboard somewhere that flashes all the names of people getting older. We were inundated this year with an increased number of “opportunities” to receive free money. But, like the cow pies, we successfully avoided all the traps laid for us. We slid right into the New Year, unscathed.
Usually I get rather nostalgic entering the New Year. Well, maybe it’s more like depressed giving up the last year. I was walking around, looking at my nostalgic memorabilia and ran across one of my old high school newspapers. There was a story that included my name. I attended what was deemed a small country (county) school. (My graduating class numbered 47). Our school seldom participated in any county competitions other than basketball.
In small schools, faculty comes and goes, passing on to bigger schools and more money. It was my senior year, when a new speech teacher arrived. She chided, cajoled, and praised us into submission. She took a team of 10 to the county speech contest. As we entered, you could hear the amazement in the voices of the registers as they checked us in. Even more surprising, out of nine schools, we placed third overall. I placed third in an Oratory classification.
As I thought about that time in my life, two thoughts struck home.
First, I can remember standing in my grandparents kitchen, next to the table nestled in the corner between two doorways, of the eight by twelve foot room. I was about seven; dad sat on one side of the table and my grandfather on the other. I was telling them something. Well I was trying to tell them something, the story just never came out. There was a point in my childhood where stuttering was a major obstacle for me. There was always that same warning, encouragement, guidance, my father said it this time; “Terry, slow down, think about what you want to say.” As we walked out of the competition, I couldn’t believe I had given the three minute Oratory to four different judging groups and pulled off a 3rd place!
As I pushed the nostalgia away, I thought about the speech I had given, an Oratory by John Foster Dulles. A couple of years ago we visited Colonial Williamsburg. A number of re-enactors gave oratories of famous people of the time. It was interesting to consider what was being said at a time when nervousness, fear and suspicion covered the land. As I thought about that, it dawned on me how little oratory we have today. Any oratory given requires copies to be passed out ahead of time, so critiques can stand in judgment before the oratory is given.
How little we rely on oratory today. We proudly covet our ability to multitask, which limits our concentration on extended narration. We bask in the acceptance of sound bites, limited phrases on ideology, which are found lacking in substance and content.
Welcome another new year in the 21st century, where we pick our leaders from sound bites generated by bias groups that purport to have our best interests at heart. I’m afraid these groups and their sound bites are just another scam, to dupe us in to selecting their choice. It’s like I’m standing in the middle of field and everywhere I step is a cow pie. I just can’t avoid stepping in it.