Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 5, 2000
Student's speech defends life
WCR Staff Writer
Cora Constantinescu, a Grade 12 student at Western Canada High School in Calgary, is the winner of the 2000 Knights of Columbus respect life oratorical contest. This year, 15 high schools held competitions with local winners taking part in the province-wide contest in Pincher Creek in April.
Entrants addressed the topic of respecting life in the light of Catholic teaching. Stefan Michniewski, chairman of the respect life oratorical committee, said entrants tackled topics such as war, drunk driving, and abortion.
Constantinescu won the contest with the following talk that she delivered again at the Knights' state convention in Edmonton on May 20.
By CORA CONSTANTINESCU
The topic of my speech is simple - "Life is beautiful."
The way to give it the respect it deserves is by proving this. Canada is a beautiful country, and thus for us, it is easy to make the connection between the astounding beauty of these surroundings and the beauty of our life. We are honoured to admire life.
You see, we are blessed to hear the gossip of the wind, to feel the caress of the sun's rays, to listen to the symphony of the leaves. We fill our soul with nobility by looking at these mountains, and we bathe our minds in the crystal depths of our lakes. Yes, this gift from our Maker, life, is beautiful. We certainly believe that, because not only do we see it around us, but we also have the lifestyles that enable us to admire it.
So, here I am, standing in front of you, and I tell you that life is beautiful and you believe me. But now, you tell me something: How can I go to a child in Yugoslavia whose life has been ravaged by a war, to a child in Mozambique who has lost his parents in a flood, or maybe to a child in Ethiopia whose bones knock together because of malnutrition, and dare to tell these children that life is beautiful?
But we know that it is so. We see it every day, and yet we, the fortunate ones, fail to convey this basic fact, the only one that can lead to happiness, the beauty of life, to the people around us.
Oh, we are very good at propaganda, very good at firing our souls with noble causes, very good at fighting nature. We look around, and see the majesty of the animal world around us, and set up agencies, ask for donations to research the anacondas in Venezuela, the koalas in Australia, or the stray dogs of Eastern Europe. Then, we look at the human race around us, but fail to see its majesty.
Another cause we are very good at adopting, is that of making peace by fighting a war. Since the beginning, the human race has been very good at accomplishing this feat. I shall tell you an antediluvian story of two brothers: Abel and Cain. Abel was a threat to Cain, a threat to his position in front of the Lord and Cain believed that by removing Abel, he would have peace of mind. Thus, one brother kills another.
I tell you, he did not have one iota of peace for the rest of his life: He was "a fugitive and a vagabond" to be killed by anyone who finds him. There are lots of Cains among us, because human nature, throughout history, has not failed to believe there can be no peace without a war.
In the First World War, when the United States entered the European war scene, President Woodrow Wilson declared to the American nation that they were going to enter the war to end all wars.
Mr. President, I admire your nobility and your dedication, but you could not have been more wrong, because this war was just a beginning. The First World War bred the Second World War, and it was the Second World War that gave birth to the Cold War. The Berlin crisis: the splitting of a city; the Cuban missile crisis: the world on the brink of death; or Vietnam, are still fresh in the memory of human history. The voices of the victims have not died.
No, there is no end to a war. I have a saying: when the bombers are silenced, the survivors scream in agony. Yet we have failed to realize this, we have failed to see the futility of our wars. NATO has recently bombed Yugoslavia, in the attempt to stop the ethnic cleansing, to bring peace and stability to the province. And now, we are surprised to see that the liberated rise against the liberators; we are surprised by the war that is still present.
Why are we surprised? We should not be. After we bombed their schools, their hospitals, homes, bridges; after we took away human lives, their discontent should be expected. Kosovo is still in the midst of instability, still ravaged by war. We should have seen by now that war only breeds war. There is no war for peace, there is only peace for peace. Death perpetuates death.
I have a message for you today: Give up futile and vapid causes, causes that cannot be achieved, because they are not true. Peace for war is a notion, an ideology that is dishonest and very expensive. Let us stop going for futile causes, let us stop trying to achieve something that is abstract.
This is my message: Let us stop trying to get drunk with plain water, let us stop hiding behind the finger, let us stop lying to ourselves. Stop investing in death, and start investing in life, because if death breeds death, so must life breed life. And from among the living causes, let us learn to prioritize, choose what is of the utmost importance.
Let us take up causes full of meaning, like showing the world around us that life is beautiful. What a worthy cause! I shall tell you something about these worthy causes: Unfortunately, we will never run out of them.
Right now, Ethiopia is facing the death of millions of people. Southeast Ethiopia is struck by the worst famine the country has experienced so far. It will spread to the rest of the country. There has been a drought for two years and the nomads in the deserts are left without food: the cattle are now carcasses.
And the Ethiopian government? It is fighting a war with Eritrea. So, I think this has a higher priority than the studies about certain animals such as boas, whales and others.
Please do not misunderstand me: I am not a hater of animals. But you see, about a month ago, BBC World News showed the most deformed child I had ever seen in my life, a child waiting for death. A few minutes later, when commercials came, I saw Mrs. Betty White looking into the eyes of a stray dog and encouraging us to adopt one.
You see, I believe that helping the people in this region, has a higher priority than the anacondas, koalas or the stray dogs. I suppose the work of saving human beings has been left up to the UN. Right now, however, the UN is bankrupt, our governments are still investing in arms, and we . . . are adopting stray dogs. Oh no, not adopting a child in Africa, Eastern Europe, India, or orphans in our own country . . . we are adopting stray dogs.
I say: let us give up these futile causes, and take up the cause of proving to the people of the world, to these children maimed physically and mentally, that life is beautiful. That is the utmost respect we can give life.
So every time you look at the mountains and feel your heart soar, know that it is selfish to let it soar alone; every time you look in the crystal depths of our lakes and feel the stream of joy pouring from your heart, know that it should merge with streams of others'. Every time you thank God for the beauty in your life, know that it is your duty to show to one person besides yourself that life is beautiful.