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TM Speech 5:It begins here, it begins now

February 24, 2013

The objective of this speech is to inspire the audience.

It begins here, it begins now

“When I was young I thought I can change this world, but as I grew older, I realized I can change only myself…”. 

My dear friends, we live in a deeply split world marred by stark irony, isn’t it? 

The total food production in the world is more than that can feed its entire population, yet we hear almost a billion people going to bed hungry without food every night and remain malnourished.

The human ingenuity that could invent night vision goggles to see objects in pitch darkness, seems to be losing its ability to see the love and suffering in broad day light with eyes wide open.

For long this cruel irony coupled with the needless human suffering bothered me enough that its haunting noise in my head became the norm. I can recall the story of a friend, a very accomplished man.  An empathetic human being, a sensitive soul. He went into a massive depression unable to deal with the torturous contradictions he was facing daily. He was too empathetic to be a witness to the suffering around him. He often wept in helplessness. He often wept alone. And eventually he killed himself. And he was not alone in this. I come to realize that lot of youthful people here in Belgium end their lives unable to face the world for whatever the reasons may be. Is there a way we can change this?

No doubt we are progressing. But, should the story of this world’s progress be written always in blood on the white sheets covering the dead? Think about this…Is that progress at all? Is there something that we could do to change this? I always wondered if I can do something about improving things around me? How can I change this world for the better? Is there a meaning to my life?

It was while seeking an answer to these existential questions, that I met my mentor, a development economist four summers ago. I met him in the context of  understanding India’s needless poverty. We discussed the needless and endless human suffering resulting from bad economic policies, the rampant corruption sucking the life and blood of our beloved nation, the illiteracy, the terrorism, the economic disparities and everything that was possibly causing these…All I wanted to know from him was how I could just go there and fix everything – in effect try to be a hero. In the end as the discussion was over, on the slopes of those hills in Berkeley, California, as the evening faded into the night and the stars were prickling in through the thick blanket of open skies, he looked straight into my eye and said one thing, ” If you really want to solve the poverty problem, if you really want to make a difference in your life and others, if you really want to make this world a happier place, do nothing, do not be a do-gooder, but just be good at what you are doing, strive to be the best…and the rest will follow – you will have made a difference…” 

If there is one message that I want to share with you all today, this is it.

My dear friends, when you go home tonight, ponder on this, tell yourself that this world needs you. When I meet a depressed colleague or friend or relative, I tell them by just being themselves, by just giving their best in whatever they do, they are changing this world for the better in ways that are never obvious, but only felt over time. Friends, our foot prints are already there, on the road to a beautiful, peaceful and secure future. They are just waiting to be blessed by our feet. A wonderful world is awaiting us – for us to give our best, for us to build, for us to nurture and for us to flourish.

Let the journey begin. Let it begin here, let it begin now…

Thank you.

PS:- This was the speech I gave in my club contest. And I won it! Nice experience. It took me back to my high school days when I used to win in elocution competitions…I still remember the competition topic I won in my tenth grade: “The impossible is often the untried”.

I contested in semi-finals and (almost) won it there too. Almost because: Toastmasters has rule that to participate in this contest, I had to have given 6 speeches by the club contest time. This was my fifth speech in the club contest. So, they couldn’t let me pass through. It was very disheartening and disappointing. I got over it eventually like everything else…


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