Speech And Debate

September 27, 2014

Things you do in school can help you the rest of your life. Here is one.

Besides playing football in high school I also was in debate and drama too. This showed that I was neither a jock nor a nerd and why I never really fit in at Gainesville High. What I did and liked did not fit the narrow social structure the culture there had and labeled students with for better or worse.

While I did drama I was MUCH better at debate and won District twice with my debate team partners (Kent Barnes and Donald Blanton, each of them did one year ) and went on to Bi-District. But before that success we got our asses beat in my first year. Some do not want kids to ever lose or fail but I think that is stupid since a defeat can be very illustrative and instructional – if you paid attention to who bested you and how they excelled and won can be learned and used for your own efforts. And that is exactly what I did.

Besides learning how to debate being able to think on my feet and “bullshit” – something that ran in the Couch side of the family I think- gave us the edge and we won the first time. Some of the stuck up b*tches who were natives of the town and in other events thought it was a fluke of course but as usual they were wrong.

Now, we got beat early in Bi-District that year but when I was a senior we missed going to State by one round in Regional competition. Oh well, that was a disappointment for sure but we still did well and proved the girls above wrong. They tended to be wrong on most things I and others thought as well.

One thing about debate is that each year there is a different topic you debate on – one year it was the Miranda Warning and the other “Beneficent Euthanasia”. You had to prepare for taking BOTH sides – argue for or against it depending on what you drew. That was challenging but it helps you think logically about something and be able to defend it against the rebuttals of your foes. And sometimes be a bit creative and not just a factual drone. I recall one team in the euthanasia year saying to the judge that we talked about “people “being literally dead” in one of our points. I rebutted pointing out that they had not factually rebutted any of OUR points and therefore THEIR points were “literally dead”. The two girls on the other team nearly started crying and we decidedly won the round plus I remember that as an important lesson too – always support what you say with fact and also a very sharp but polite tongue.

Debate and speech in general, taught me a lot of things I constantly use in my career today. School prepares you for the real world in so many ways. The debate topics appearing in work and life come and go over time but the skills to win those trying rounds remain if you choose to apply the skills you learned each day.


The Unity Church Bookstore

September 6, 2014

This is from Days Remembered and is about the church book store where Stephanie and I wed and attended church.

I always enjoyed going to the Fort Worth Unity Church and hearing Reverend Roach and his messages to the congregation. The Sundays there were always a pleasure. The friendly atmosphere of that church and the way the sermons appealed to one’s intellect as well as one’s spirituality was a combination that worked for us both.

Now, both of us never blindly followed the more orthodox ways of the fundamentalist church we were both raised and baptized in. The churches from our childhoods and Unity Church were in many ways opposite of each other—their sets of doctrines have little commonality. As one example, Unity’s use of phrases like “Father/Mother/God” would certainly curdle the religious cheese of many who attended our former churches and others like it. The many diverse beliefs of the Unity movement were not for everyone.

Also, neither of us believed all that Unity taught either. Indeed, one of Unity’s beliefs is that you don’t have to believe everything they teach. Thus, their door is open to those who are religious, spiritual, or even atheist.

When we went into the bookstore at the Unity Church, we saw this same wide range of thinking on its shelves. During our time together, we both bought books and other items there. Those purchases helped the church, but also helped us by giving us something new to think about.

Each time we went inside the bookstore, there was something new to pick up and look at. Some of the books and tapes were a bit out there for our tastes, but many were of great interest. My favorite was the book comparing the words and ideas of Jesus to Buddha. And there were others as well—for both of us. Not to mention, there were the interesting, handmade clothes that they also sold, which you sometimes bought, too.

In the end, that neat little store and its wide variety of products were like the church and its members— a cross section of people with a variety of beliefs and lifestyles but united by a set of values that everyone who attended shared. This was all illustrated by the different types of books and other items on the shelves of the bookstore. That store was small in size, but it was very large in the stock of ideas that it made available to those who entered its friendly doors.

All groups, whether religious or not, should afford everyone that same gentle social tone and the ability to retain one’s own beliefs all while one’s intellect is nourished along with the soul.