翌13日(土)は，関東地区，北部日本地区，中部日本地区，南部日本地区より選抜された地区代表27名で決勝大会が行われ，耒山君は12番目に，”The Enemy of Speech”というタイトルで発表を行いました。結果は残念ながら7位までの入賞は逃しましたが，堂々たる発表で審査員の皆さんに強い印象を与えることができました。耒山君にとっても，高校進学に向けて新たなる課題と目標を持つことができた，素晴らしい体験となりました。
Today, I’d like to talk about the enemy of speech. When I was in elementary school, I could not speak. I couldn’t talk to anyone all day. Once I got home, I could talk with my family, but once school started again, my lips simply wouldn’t move. These days, I’ve got tons of friends and we talk non-stop, but I’ve l always wondered what was wrong with me back then. Now I realize that I couldn’t talk because of fear; fear of being bullied, fear of being hurt. It was how I tried (I kept quit) to protect myself against those bullies, like a little turtle pulling into its shell. Now, I don’t need my shell anymore. I’m not afraid to voice my opinion in front of anyone. Actually, that’s not true – it’s still scary to speak up in front of everyone, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because I know the alternative – to be captive to fear, unable to say anything. It’s like being in a prison, and there’s no way I’m going back. (Because of my experience, I don’t take words for granted. I know what they can do – how someone’s words can make you feel like you don’t want to exist – and how expressing yourself, sharing your feelings with others, can make you feel free, feel alive. Fear is the enemy of speech. When we are afraid, we don’t want to take the risk of reaching out to someone. Because if we do, we can be hurt. It’s safer not to try. But when we build walls to protect ourselves from others, those walls keep us from feeling anything, from growing, from forming relationships with others, from being happy. I see those walls every day at school, on the street, on the trains. I see them on the news, too. All over the world, there are wars. In the Middle East, in Europe and Africa. Different countries fight each other; attack with bombs and tanks the walls of their enemy. They talk about justice and stability and freedom and duty. But they are all really just afraid – afraid to talk to each other, afraid of being hurt. Their turtle shell is a tank, and they speak with their guns and missiles. Many years ago, we Japanese shut ourselves away from the world. For over 200 years we didn’t speak to the world, nor listen to anyone else. The policy of Sakoku was supposed to protect our culture. We thought that if we open up, we would be destroyed. But look at what has happened – now you can eat sushi in Sydney Harbor, in Times Square, in Red Square! Japanese anime is watched in almost every language, and manga is popular from India to Indonesia. When foreigners come to my school, they want to see kendo, sadou, and ikebana. People love Japanese culture, and Japan has many friends, all around the world. And it is all because we communicated! But we humans are still scared of the unknown. We are still scared to talk to some countries, still afraid to reach out to them. In my class, many students too, prefer to remain quiet. They prefer the security of the group – It seems that we still believe that old saying,
the nail that sticks out will be hammered down. But this is wrong. Both in the classroom, and in the world, we need the courage to voice our own opinions, and to listen to the opinions of others.
Is there a risk? Yes, there is. But it is far better than being trapped in the prison of our own fear. Let’s talk together and make all the friends we can, Because only together, can we defeat the enemy of speech.