Following is a power point presentation given as an example of a six minute speech for a public speaking class I co-taught for teens in 2013:
Have you ever thought you were familiar enough with something
that understanding it was within your reach,
only to later discover you really didn’t know anything?
The key to knowing is how we respond to stumbling upon new information,
and whether or not we have “intellectual curiosity”.
There are three categories to the human thought process:
Those who think they know
Those who want to know
"Them what don’t know they don’t know"
Let’s explore intellectually reaching for knowledge ~
when curiosity becomes a hunger.
I refer to effort, and focus, and personal risk.
Because we might not understand something even if we try!
Or, we might be intimidated by “experts”
who know a heck of a lot more than we ever could.
However, it’s the reaching for knowing that makes all the difference.
Last year I went somewhere I had heard about my entire life.
I’d seen a million pictures of it,
read books, looked at maps, saw movies, heard other people talk about going there,
it was in the news all the time -
I felt comfortably familiar with that place.
I assumed I could go there and anticipate what it would be like.
Can you guess where I went?
could have prepared me
where vast and storied civilizations had come and gone
for over 7,000 years.
It was a RUSH - to be in the same place where once were conquering
or Byzantine elites
or the reclusive sect who left us the
Dead Sea Scrolls
or at the iconic places traditionally associated to timeless
and beloved Biblical events . . .
The point is
I could talk - or gush - for days and days about viewing precious
Paleolithic and Iron Age artifacts
in freaking person,
or how thrilling it was to be in
Old City Jerusalem
listening spell-bound to almost every language on the planet
in that one, crowded, colorful,
enormously textured place.
The fatal tipping-point for me
in realizing how an intellectual grasp
of this place was profoundly beyond my reach,
had more to do with
people were anciently
was dedicated wholly to DEFENSE.
If you wanted to stay alive,
you planted yourself on top of a rocky, desolate hill with a 360 view
and built a massive
("The Western Stone" of the original Jerusalem Western Wall weighs around 570 tons)
they went to extraordinary lengths to excavate gigantic cisterns
and tunnels and channels
by which to store, find or direct life-giving
Keeping these golden systems a secret from the enemy was a must.
when you’re digging straight down to holy bedrock to get water,
just fetching it on a daily basis
must have been
was another wake-up call to my now foreboding sense of
In the dry air we could hear sound carry great distances with shocking clarity.
I was struck
by how horrifying it would have been to hear every clank of armor,
the rumbling wheels from heavy supply carts
the drone of thousands of footsteps coming closer, and closer...
The Destruction of Jerusalem lithograph by David Roberts 1849
Can you imagine living in a day when armed conflict meant either
annihilation or slavery?
It was a dramatic REACH for me to imagine myself having children,
baking bread and getting water
in a world so terribly well-acquainted with DEATH.
Yet whole civilizations - over and over again for over 7,000 years
did this with absolutely no variation.
We have nothing to compare it to in this hemisphere.
And now, here is where the real REACHING begins:
While this is Israel:
So is this:
This is an ancient land who’s glorious birthright literally
is Blood and Conflict.
I wanted to understand.
There are no simple answers to resolve anything!
The issues are deeply complex
Passion runs deep and inflexible.
In this case it doesn’t seem to matter how much I want to know:
my intellectual curiosity almost hurts
because I want the answers so badly.
Our 2013 American culture of relative ease and security
is a little distracted ~
from giving time to anything of real significance
Maybe part of reaching for familiarity in things
which are difficult to understand
is an important aspect of
I appreciate my sense of natural curiosity.
Because I want to know,
I ask questions. I read. I observe.
I am willing to be open to other viewpoints,
and I hope other people try to understand mine.
I also appreciate accessible water like never before!
And you know what?
I wish I could go back.
If I ever could,
I would tell that place I am sorry I underestimated her!
Damascus Gate lithograph by David Roberts 1839
I would tell every pinkish limestone
and every dusty goat path and twisted olive tree
that I will not make that same mistake again.
If I ever see Jerusalem again,
I will find a spot to sit
to what her iconic walls are breathing to the world -
it really is true that
“all roads lead to Jerusalem”.
Turns out her sheer historicity is too large to grasp in one sitting - or ever!
But the reaching part
oh, that’s the