Category Archives: Opinion

Toastmasters Speech #4

Project 4 – How to say it

Objectives:

  1. Select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly, accurately and vividly.
    1. Write for the ear
      1. Short words
      2. Short sentences
  • Short paragraphs
  1. Be specific
  2. Vivid words
  1. Use rhetorical devices to enhance and emphasize ideas.
    1. Incorporate rhetorical devices
      1. Simile
      2. Metaphor
  • Alliteration
  1. Triads
  1. Use words economically
  1. Eliminate jargon and unnecessary words. Use correct grammar.
    1. Watch for jargon.
    2. Say it correctly
      1. Subject/verb agreement
      2. Misplaced modifiers
  • Misused pronouns

Working Title 1: What to do in the case of an emergency.

Working Title 2: In case of emergency, break glass.

Working Title 3: Break Glass!

Honorifics Mr. Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters & Guests, greetings!
Joke I was at a work Christmas party once.   I was drinking alcohol. Some of my work mates were shocked. They sidled up to me and breathlessly enquired, “James, I didn’t think you drank alcohol?” I dead-panned my response, “It’s not that I don’t drink alcohol. It’s just that I don’t pay for alcohol.”
Link Did you know that you demonstrate your true nature when faced with a crisis situation? In my case, at that time, I used to be cheeky and cheap. I believe I’ve matured since then.
Introduction Have you ever wondered what you would do if faced with a bomb threat? I never did, until it happened to me. It happened like this.

I was visiting Indonesia in July 2001. Remember, that was just 2 months before the attack on the World Trade Centre. I was on a two-week mission, to donate a PC to a Bible College and set up their computer network. While I was living on the premises, the local Muslims phoned in a bomb threat.   I suppose that the neighbours were fairly upset about the presence of a Christian College, despite it being there for over 20 years. Not a shining example of tolerance, was it?

I realised that I had only 3 options available to me:

·         Fight

·         Flight

·         Faith

1st Point By fight, I don’t me turning on the neighbours. What I mean is reacting to the situation in my own strength: going on a hunt to find the threatened bomb. Indeed, there were staff and students doing just that: out of their rooms, looking shocked, worried and concerned.

Imagine yourself in this situation.   It would be natural, as a Christian minority in a Muslim majority country, to be absolutely overcome with fear.   It would be like Jews in Nazi Germany.

I realised that my nice, safe, little country of New Zealand had not prepared me for this level of intimidation.   Despite the pressure I felt, something else in me rejected this option.

2nd Point The second option available to me was the Flight response. I could have left the Bible College and gone to stay in a nice, safe hotel, until my actual flight home. This would have meant rejecting the hospitality of my hosts. It might even have meant leaving behind my meagre possessions (I had brought at least a suitcase of clothes).

This could have been a perfectly reasonable course of action. It is no shame to escape a helpless situation. As Demosthenes said,

“Better to retreat and marshal your forces than to waste a glorious death in sure defeat.”

I realised at this point that there was no way to know for sure whether a bomb actually existed. If it did, there was no way to know for sure where it was in the school. And finally, if it went off, there was no way to know for sure how large would be the blast.

For all these reason, I chose the 3rd option.

3rd Point I decided to have faith in God.   If I died, I died. In the apostle Paul’s inspired letter to the Philippians, he writes “To live is [gain]; To die is gain.” Living, I get to enjoy time with friends and family.   Dying, I get to enjoy eternity with my Lord.

I chose not to live in fear.

I chose not to live with fear.

I chose to live without fear.

I chose to go to bed!

I didn’t feel particularly brave doing this act. I wasn’t deliberately setting out to set an example, or be some great hero, or even to obey my Lord. I was just tired, and wanted to go to bed. My upbringing had not prepared me to deal with this situation, so I was choosing to ignore it.

In the end, it was the right decision. There was no bomb. The threat was merely meant to instil terror.

Message Subsequent to September 11, the world has changed. We are more aware that there are physical forces who despise our way of life. We are more cautious.

But my hope is this: That when faced with the decision whether to fight the situation, or fly from it or exercise faith in the face of it, that I and you would choose to exercise faith more often.

This doesn’t mean refusing to fight injustice. As John Wesley said,

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.

This doesn’t mean ignoring every threat.

It does mean, weighing my options and trying to determine, what would Jesus do?

Conclusion I entitled today’s speech “Break Glass”. This was a reference to those fire switches besides the doors at public venues which state, “In case of emergency, break glass.” This is so that you can get to the switch and activate it. This is so that you can sound the alarm, and alert people to a serious situation. This is so that they may flee the fire.

But the glass is there for a reason.   It is there to protect the switch against being used casually or accidently. Because there are people who just want to watch the world run around in circles in a panic. It amuses them.

You and I have the opportunity to be that glass. In a world without faith, that only has the fight or flight response left, we get to show them a third way. We get to intercede on their behalf. We get to determine what’s a real fire and what’s an imagined fire.

Summary In summary, the lesson I want you to take away from my experience with the bomb threat is this simple: in order to determine whether a perceived threat is real or imagined, you have to read the BIBLE:

·         Beginners’s

·         Instructions

·         Before

·         Leaving

·         Earth

Thank you, Mr. Toastmaster.

We Have An Eye-Witness

I had a really interesting conversation this week, sitting around at lunch break in the staff dining area. I innocently mentioned a story I heard on the radio. Apparently, you can pay $12,000 to have your ashes sent to the moon. I don’t know whether this is true. But I expressed a preference to turn my ashes into a diamond. It just appeals.

My work colleague immediately moves on from this topic to dismissing any possibility of life after death. This I took as a direct provocation of my worldview, which is widely known at work, and completely off topic.

At first, I let him wax on, unsure where he wanted this conversation to go. Another colleague expressed his cheerful ignorance of what comes next, leaving open any and all possibilities.

I felt in this instance, discretion was the better part of valour, and decided to merely leave a small gem. So I stated, “It depends on your worldview about whether you believe there was an Eye-witness who went there and came back to tell us about it.” This was my subtle reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I believe my oblique reference was understood.

There was stunned silence. I took that as my queue to return to work.

Actual Discourse

For Against
It’s an alternative point of view from naturalistic materialism, which brings comfort to many Christianity is too narrow a focus for our pluralistic society.
There is a spiritual hunger, not satisfied in any other way. Conflict with use of time/resources.   Spark shouldn’t be in this business.
Act as conscience (of the company) Harden up
Useful for therapy (improve employee life) We’ve already got HR & EAP
Better to have an opinion and move on, then to wallow in unbelief & inaction. Couldn’t we just exclude the Christianity aspect?
Another method of communication and community within the company.
Aligned, on the same page
Values-based directional counselling has great value.
Good exposure to alternative view increases tolerance. Bad experiences decreases tolerance.

What Would Chaplaincy Offer?

  • Basic Life Principles
    • Boundaries
    • Marriage Course
  • Personal, private confessional (active listening)
  • Directive counselling (talking)
  • Social community
  • Potential measurement: Brand value

Thoughts outlining how I think my session will go

Introduction

  • When I previously introduced myself as “Chaplain,” that was an aspirational role.
  • I am a trained student of the Bible.

Does Spark Need a Chaplaincy?

For Against
(Assuming Chaplaincy implies Christianity) It’s an alternative point of view from naturalistic materialism, which brings comfort to many. (Assuming Chaplaincy implies Christianity) It’s too narrow a focus for a pluralistic society.
Other religions are tolerant of Christian services in an (admittedly post-) Christian society. Only atheists appear intolerant of Christianity in any form. In which case, just stay away! It’s all mumbo-jumbo and I don’t want any resources diverted into such an unscientific endeavour.
I see case after case of spiritual hunger in the workplace that is being unfulfilled. I want to help. Those people can go elsewhere.   Spark shouldn’t be in the business of fulfilling spiritual hunger.
There are some basic life principles that people are not being taught, which will improve their lives (and make their work life more tolerable). Harden up? Such as what?
The Boundaries Course has helped me.
The Marriage Course has helped me.
The Alpha Course has helped me.

#sparkInnovation14 Part 2

Saturday Afternoon:

  • The seventh session: “The Art and Science of Story Telling”
    • Hook, “What’s in it for me (the audience)?” & 3 points (with evidences) and the kick (closing the deal).
    • Discussion around: choose appropriate level for your audience, story-telling in a tweet (it can be done); brevity vs. detail; journalism “inverted pyramid” of information: who-what-where-when (the “why” comes later).
  • The eighth session: “Human Extinction: What’s going to cause it, and should we bother to prevent it?” Is it better for the planet to let it happen to us? How much do we value future generations, in that we are willing to change today?
    • Asteroid Strike, Rouge A.I., Ebola (virus/black plague), Zombie apocalypse, Nuclear War, Alien Invasion, Global Warming.
    • Population control: agree or disagree? (I was the sole dissenter. My reasoning being that the Chinese example is too draconian. It should be a heart decision.)
    • Humanly speaking, there is no denying that we are growing our population within finite resources to breaking point.
    • There is a competing philosophy: that the Creation was made for Man, not Man for the Creation; meaning: we are to be good stewards of the environment, but not limited by it.
    • Spiritually speaking: there is hope, if we will change our hearts and agree to work for the Greater Good (The Golden Rule).
    • (There were some militant humanists in the room, in that my right to survive outweighs anybody else’s, to the point where I am justified in any action in order to ensure the survival of me and my kind.)

#SparkInnovation14

Does Spark need a Chaplaincy?

  • If yes, what would it do?

My Motivations in asking the question:

  • My career has peaked. There’s nowhere vertical for me to go. Therefore, in order to be more fulfilled, I have to incorporate more of my outside interests into my work. Hence, offering my marriage counselling, spiritual guidance skills.
  • Nearly every week, I observe within Spark, demotivation, depression, crises. I am fundamentally loyal to this company. I would like to offer something to help.

Relevancy:

  • The first session I attended this weekend was “Plane crashes & Ebola: are your travel plans affected?” The discussion transitioned into doomsday scenarios. I was fascinated. The veneer of civilisation very quickly disappeared in that discussion, in that people were actually contemplating bombing potentially innocent boat people. To me, this prove a lack of moral centre. We agreed that empires fall. Is the American empire about to fall?
Empire Prophet Expression
Greek Aristotle There is no good in mankind
Judaism Jeremiah The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
Christian Paul All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Humanism Philosophers Man is a helpless victim of this environment
  • The second session was “3D Printing & the Internet of Things”. 3dhubs.com provides a 3d printing & delivery service.
  • The third session was “Odd Hobbies”. We are unique human beings, with diverse enthusiasms. My contributions (from more mainstream to less so) were:
    • Squash
    • Blogging (somebody else wrote “TV & movies”
    • Attending Conferences (somebody else wrote “going to sci-fi conventions”)
    • Speaking/presenting
    • Marriage counselling
  • The fourth session was, “Business Patterns” and how to use them to improve business. The problem of entrenching success, is it makes the process inflexible. However, in order to allow flexibility, requires delegated authority, which incurs risk.
    • I liken this to fatherhood: leading the family. If they were warned, then they are being disobedient. If they weren’t warned, then they are not disobedient, they are merely childish, and shouldn’t be punished.
    • Likewise, the owner of the company decides what is best for the company, and needs to communicate that, then allow their people freedom to work within that paradigm. This is a Biblical model of hierarchy.
    • Also, I’m raising generals, not soldiers.   Therefore I’m going to teach them how to think, not what to think.
    • But, organisations like McDonalds, who have a repeatable process, want drones to follow the process.
    • But if I’m a start-up, I’m going to hire pioneers, who thrive on the chaos of creativity, and need to be entertained, and hate structure. Structure may come later, but when, and to what degree?
    • The owner is the visionary, but needs to hire either employees to follow, or consultants to recommend new directions.
    • Nobody here liked my suggestion that any organisation is like a family, in that Dad sets the direction. (I love stirring the pot.)
  • The Fifth Session, “What has technology done to humanity?”
    • Why I Think This World Should End: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ1qlSjL_9g. This video talks about the negative aspects of our society and recommends that the antidote is love.
    • Are we too loosely allowing future generations to view bad things? What has changed between the 1950’s and today? Culture, technology, expectations, values.
    • It’s feeding our insatiable appetite of inquisitiveness.
    • My slant: “there is a Book, that talks about Man’s propensity to use technology for self-advancement, instead of contentment. At the Tower of Babel, Man tried to eliminate God from their society, and failed.”
    • Computers allows us to do things quicker. We’re doing the bad things quicker. Technology amplifies what’s there.
    • In the Humanist Manifesto, which is the predominant philosophy of Western Society, the promise was that Science would solve all our ills. The problem is, that Science is driven by fallible human beings. A good case in point is fat was discovered to be “bad”, was removed, but was replaced with salt and sugar. The result: incredible obesity. So, the philosophy is corrupt, because its basis (a purely good humanity) is false.
  • The sixth session: “Does Technology enable or relieve loneliness/isolation, especially in the elderly?” What can be done to improve the situation in 2041, when 1.3M Kiwis will be over 65?
    • Is the Hugging Chair (in Japan) a good idea? Just because they built it, and it’s being used, does the need exist? Nobody doubts the need for real hugs. Can technology replace that? I doubt it.
    • My slant: The Wheton Law applies: “Don’t be a Dick.” Invest in relationships now, so that people want to interact with you later. It doesn’t really matter what technology exists in the future, if humans don’t want to talk to you. The Hugging Chair is tacky.

I’m going to blog this now, so that you get a feel for it.