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April 2, 2007 |
I am a junior in high school and have just been nominated to run for the position of Honor Council president at my school. I will be asked to speak to the student body about honor and other such matters. I have been thinking about what I will say when the time comes, and I thought that you probably have some great insight in the matter. Or perhaps there is an appropriate story from Lake Wobegon you could suggest? I have been listening to your show every week since I found you on the radio four years ago, so in addition to my question, I just wanted to thank you for providing my family and me with countless hours of old-fashioned, quality entertainment. I hope that you will keep it up for years to come!
It's good you're thinking about this, Christopher, because you do want to give a good speech. Your classmates have heard plenty of mediocre speeches the kind in which the speaker starts out by saying what an honor it is and so forth and blah blah blah and there's a lOOOOOOOOng wind-up and then the speech is just a bunch of cliches. Honor is not a cliche, and I think you might start out by thinking about how much we depend on trust in our ordinary lives. Where trust is lost e.g. at the airport when you are boarding a flight it is enormously troublesome and expensive and tedious to replace trust with a system of security. In agriculture, a great deal of business is done on the basis of trust you could look into that. When a farmer sends a load of livestock off with a trucker to go to market, I believe that it's done on the basis of a handshake and trust. In other businesses, the same is true: millions of dollars are committed and transactions accomplished on a handshake. Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska spoke to that Sunday morning on TV, in reference to the controversy around Attorney General Gonzales: "We govern with one currency, and that's trust. And that trust is all important. And when you lose or debase that currency, then you can't govern." That might be a starting point for your speech. We've come to accept lying as an inevitable part of politics in this country and what price do we pay for it? We accept that public officials will try to spin stories and manage the news, but at some point, if public trust is lost, their careers are effectively over. Now there's something for a bright young man to think about.