With most parts of the world on lockdown and many fighting for their lives, we are living in uncertain and terrifying times. There is a general feeling of helplessness and despair when we turn on the news and contemplate our new reality. However, with the rate of infections falling and the world working together on solutions, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
So in this week’s Stellar Speeches Series, we will look at speeches delivered in dire times with a focus on the future, hope, and perseverance.
1) Jacinda Arden – Mosque shooting
A deadly mass shooting in a mosque took the lives of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019. The world grieved for the needless loss of lives and the incident instigated a serious discussion on gun control laws as well as islamophobia. Here is New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Arden, addressing the nation after the attack.
“We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not, and cannot, be shaken by this attack…You may have chosen us – but we utterly reject and condemn you.”
2) Micheal Jordan – Kobe Bryant
The world was rocked by Kobe Bryant’s death on 26 January 2020, a man that seemed so invincible. Kobe and his daughter, along with 7 others, tragically perished from a helicopter accident in California. Micheal Jordan, a close friend of Kobe’s, gave a moving and honest speech at his memorial.
“No one knows how much time we have. That’s why we must live in the moment, we must enjoy the moment, we must reach and see and spend as much time as we can with our families and friends and the people that we absolutely love. To live in the moment means to enjoy each and every one that we come in contact with.”
3) George W. Bush – 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
Almost 20 years later, the terrorist attacks committed on 11 September 2001 in America, remain the deadliest in modern history taking 2,977 lives and injuring over 25,000 people. These attacks prompted America’s War on Terror which went on until 2013. Here is then prime minister’s, George W. Bush, solemn nation’s address regarding the attacks.
“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”
4) Hilary Clinton – Concession Speech
In early 2016, Hilary Clinton was set to be America’s first female president with polls voting in her favour and with her great performance during the presidential debate. She represented marginalised communities in America – women, immigrants, the middle class. However, all hope came crashing down when Donald J. Trump received the majority votes in the electoral college. Despite the defeat, Hilary’s speech was one of hope, perseverance, and optimism for the future.
“Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
5) Robert F. Kennedy – Assassination of Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King, a prominent civil rights leader, was brutally assassinated on 4 April 1968. Angered by the injustice, tensions were high between the blacks and whites of America during that time. Risking riots and his safety, Robert F. Kennedy delivered a brief but powerful speech to announce the news and to call on Americans to band together to reject hatred.
“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
Do you have a favourite speech or interesting theme to suggest? Please leave a comment or drop a message and we will be sure to include the video in the next Stellar Speeches Series.
Historical Movie Magic
Nominated for multiple Academy and Oscar awards, the movie, “The King’s Speech”, is about King George VI’s reign during Britain’s war against Germany. King George VI, a reluctant king with a speech impediment, managed to deliver a solemn public address on the dire times.
“This is the ultimate issue which confronts us. For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge. It is to this high purpose that I now call my people at home and my peoples across the seas, who will make our cause their own. I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial. The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield. But we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God.”
Closer to home, our prime minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has given several televised announcements regarding the pandemic. While he is famous for his “Just Stay at Home” speech on 18 March 2020, his national address on 27 March 2020 really hit the nail in dealing with all of our concerns, which were not just health, but political and economic as well.
“We are a nation at war with invisible forces. The situation we are now facing is unprecedented in history. And, this government may not be the government that you voted for. But I want all of you to know that this government cares for you….We are not perfect, but we are doing the best we can to pull through this crisis together, as one nation. God willing, we will come out stronger when this crisis ends and the dust settles. InsyaAllah.”