My Ice Breaker Speech

by AS Woods on September 7, 2011

I gave my first Toastmaster speech (The Ice Breaker) at the Emeryville Toasmaster club last week on August 30. The objective was to give the fellow club members insight and understanding of me as an individual. It is pretty easy to sum up what I am all about with the Heartbreaker Foundation. Here is my speech.

My name is Anne Woods. I have a single-minded goal in life. It’s the Heartreaker Foundation, a foundation I want to dedicate to advance animal right causes.

Heartbreaker was the name of my beloved Keeshond. He died in 2006. However, the foundation isn’t so much to honor him. I simply love him so much that I want to attach his name to the most defining and significant aspect of my identity.

The idea of the Heartbreaker Foundation came to me gradually more than 10 years ago. I had an epiphany one day that human being is the only species who take far more than necessary to survive and thrive. And on top of that, we humans have a unique and amazing ability to rationalize and even glorify our most self-serving behaviors. Compared to other animals, we have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. I was wondering if there was any objective and rational basis to value human life so much higher over other lives. In seeking the answer to this, I came across the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. He explains that “equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration. Equal consideration for different beings may lead to different treatments and different rights.” Right should be considered in the context of ability and capacity. For example, women should have the right to vote because women have the mental ability to reason as men. This ability is necessary to participate in a democratic process such as voting. The rights for animals is based on their capacity to suffer. Singer said “The question for them is not can they reason, or can they talk, but can they suffer.” For those who believe animals are lower than human because they are less intelligent than human, Singer offers a very compelling question. He asked if we would consider it acceptable to eat or perform painful experiment on a human baby who was born with severe mental retardation. The answer is obviously no. Why? Because the baby can suffer. Why then would we accept the same cruel treatment on other sentient beings who can suffer just the same? I was sold. Once it made sense me, it was simply too hard to lead a life contrary to what I believe to be logical and consistent, and in my heart’s heart know it to be true.

So why the foundation? I figure why not? The case for animal right is so clear relative to life’s many ambiguities. It’s a luxury to have a purpose in life that is so readily defendable, and hence one can relax in. One less nagging existential question to lose sleep over. I just don’t see any down side for helping to advance the rights of animals. I love animals. It doesn’t mean I hate humans however. There are ample evidence linking animal cruelty to cruelty to humans. Even though I don’t believe I will see the end of animal suffering in my life time or even after, I find having this purpose in life only enriches my daily existence.


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by ASWoods_ADMIN on August 19, 2011

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