My 12 year old son has been taking public speaking classes all year. This is a school program offered to students in 7th grade. Throughout the year students prepare speeches on a variety of topics of their choosing, and present them in front of their class. They are given pointers and assistance on speaking clearly, pacing and timing, making eye contact with listeners, hand gestures and body language, and more. And at the end of the year, those who are brave enough to do so can take part in a competition, a speech competition, in front of a much larger audience, with tougher rules, and an outside panel of judges (individuals with varied public speaking experiences). My son took part in the competition, and won second place (with a single point difference between him and the 1st place winner). We are really proud of him, it takes guts and determination to get up at a lectern in front of a full auditorium to deliver a speech, especially when you are 12 years old and the audience is mostly grownups. Here is his winning speech:
The Useless Nothing
I have an idea for an organization that could change the world, an organization dedicated to preventing war and safeguarding human rights. And I’d like to share this idea with you this evening.
My organization will be massive, on a very grand scale, known the world over, and with membership from countries all over the planet. The member nations would all be required to send delegates to become part of this organization. In this way, they would be representing their countries in all sorts of very important meetings and discussions.
This organization will, of course, need a huge budget, spending billions of dollars each year. The majority of the money, over five billion annually, would be used for international peacekeeping and security purposes. Member nations will be required to contribute funds to cover this enormous budget. As expected, The United States will be obligated to be the single biggest contributor. And in recognition of these contributions, we will be careful to ensure that our policies and views rarely support those of The United States.
With so much money at its disposal, the organization will have corporations the world over seeking to sign contracts with us, hoping and vying for a slice of the massive budget pie. It is very likely, then, that bribery could become the norm. Organization officials could be tempted to pocket large amounts of money hoping to direct contracts to specific vendors and companies. To prevent this from happening we will create a Budget Oversight Committee, which will be made up organization officials. Incidentally, they will be the very same officials who would be suspected of taking bribes.
We’d headquarter my organization right here in The United States, perhaps right in the heart of New York City. 16 acres of prime real estate ought to do the trick. Technically speaking, the headquarters, and the land that it sits on, will not be a part of The United States and will therefore, obviously, not be subject to U.S. rules and law. The members of the organization will not be required to respect Federal or State law, immigration law, or even customs requirements or inspections. In fact, let’s let the delegates and representatives do whatever they wish, breaking any laws they see fit, and however they’d like.
As far as real work goes, my organization would create councils to solve specific world problems. Perhaps one of the most important and key committees will be the Security Council where member nations will discuss vital world security issues. All countries will be invited to be a part of this council, even known terrorist states, like Libya and Iran. The only country in the world that we will explicitly exclude will be Israel.
My organization will have no army, no real might, and no way to enforce ideas and policies. Instead, we will issue resolutions. And if by chance these resolutions are not adhered to, we will denounce the non-compliance quickly and efficiently by issuing additional resolutions!
The organization will be able to impose sanctions. Or rather, it will be able to recommend that sanctions be imposed. For example, to punish brutal dictators like Saddam Hussein we might encourage member nations to not buy oil from Iraq.
On second thought, that might not work. Sanctions like these would actually hurt everyday Iraqis more than they’d hurt Saddam Hussein. So we would have to create a special program where we actually would buy oil from Iraq, but only give them money clearly designated to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi population. Of course, monitoring such a program would be impossible, and so organization members and their families could abuse the program to their advantage, bypassing the sanctions, feeding money to Saddam Hussein, and scamming billions of dollars in what may become the biggest financial scandal of all time.
Since we will have no army, we will ask member nations to lend us soldiers to be part of Peacekeeping Forces. These elite groups will be posted in strategic locations around the world, for example, along the border between Israel and Lebanon. The Peacekeeping Forces will not use force, and will not get involved in any fighting. Rather, they will observe. And if they were to see, let’s say for arguments sake, Hezbollah stockpiling weapons over a long period of time, they would not get involved, and they would not report this back to the Security Council. In fact, they will immediately do absolutely nothing at all.
The head of my organization will be known as the Secretary General. This individual will need to be a prominent statesman and a seasoned politician, someone well known and trusted, someone who could even be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. We’d find someone known for his love of all humanity, someone with a clear and untarnished past, a man of peace – someone, perhaps, like former Nazi Kurt Waldheim.
So, all that is left for me to do now is to find an appropriate name for such a significant and essential organization. After all, the world will be looking to us for impartial help and support. Let me think. … Aha! Considering what the organization will accomplish and the role it will play in world politics and human rights, we will call it “The Useless Nothing”. And the world over it will be known by its abbreviation – The UN.