Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Five Words That Spell Liberation
by Luke Setzer

I gave this speech from the Toastmasters Humorously Speaking project manual recently so imagine over-the-top tonality and physiology as you read it.  The goal of the third project in the manual, "Make Them Laugh," aims to make the message memorable with illustrative humor.  I still consider it in essence a sense of life speech rather than a humorous one and so categorize this article accordingly.  Enjoy!
In ancient Greek legend, the kingdom of Phrygia found itself without a ruler and an oracle predicted that their next king would ride into town on a wagon.  Sure enough, a peasant named Gordius rode into town on an ox cart, and the people crowned him as king.  When the people of Phyrigia made Gordius king, he dedicated his ox cart to Zeus and tied it fast with a dense and intricate knot -- a Gordian knot.  An oracle predicted that whoever eventually untied the knot would rule all of Asia.
Many men tried for many years to untie the Gordian knot to no avail.  Finally, the ambitious conqueror Alexander the Great solved the knot challenge in 333 BC by cutting through it with his sword.  He eventually fulfilled the oracle's prophecy by becoming ruler of Asia.
The time of oracles and monarchs with swords has passed, but Gordian knots remain very much with us.  In our country, you can enjoy a great deal of freedom to rule yourself rather than have a dictator rule over you.  But this freedom of action does not stop people from attempting to rule over you with their Gordian knots ... of argumentation.  They want to bind you in their Gordian knots of argumentation.  They want to deceive you into thinking you cannot move without their "permission."
They usually start by sticking their noses, uninvited, into your business.  Some busybody sees you peacefully enjoying yourself and feels morally entitled to strut into the scene to hose your good time thoroughly:
  • If he sees you eating a nice, thick slice of chocolate cake, he'll interrupt your enjoyment by saying, "Don't eat that!  It will make you fat!"
  • If she sees you enjoying a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue centerfold, she'll say something like, "Don't you know you're contributing to the rise of anorexia and the exploitation of women?"
  • If they see you bringing home a bag of groceries from Wal-Mart, they'll say, "Don't support Wal-Mart!  They exploit labor!"
Now if you fall for the sucker punch and try to counter their statements, you will face the woeful task of attempting to unravel Gordian knots of argumentation.  Fortunately, you do not need to respond at all to these modern successors of Gordius.  Your life and your time belong to you.  This means that, by right, you can employ the modern successor of the Alexandrian sword.  I call it the sword of liberation.
It consists of five words: I do not need you.
So if someone tells you not to eat chocolate cake, or not to look at bikini women, or not to patronize Wal-Mart, you can swing the sword of liberation to bypass the arguing altogether.  You can cut, literally cut, to the heart of the matter by simply noting the fundamental fact: I do not need you.
That's it.  That's the formula: I do not need you.
They will, of course, try to lure you into their sticky Gordian webs:
"But you haven't answered my objection."  I do not need you.
"That's not an answer!"  I do not need you.
"You're just trying to duck the issue!"  I do not need you.
Many speakers invite you to "make the connection" -- whatever that means.  I invite you -- yes, I do mean you -- to make the disconnection.  Disconnect yourself from the obstructionists, the life drainers, the destroyers.  Set yourself free from the Gordian knots of troublemakers so that you can live your life your way.
So let me tell you all squarely to your faces that if you try to trap me in your Gordian knots of argumentation, you will feel the sharp edge of my Alexandrian sword of liberation.  So talk to the hand because the face shall not listen.  I do not need you.
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