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Sample Persuasive Speech:
The secret of life is death
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Summary: This speech persuades an audience that by fearing death they are stopping themselves from living a full and rich life. It is suitable for any speaker to give either to students or to a general audience. It could also be used by a member of a group such as Toastmasters.
Sample Persuasive Speech
Is there one subject more unwelcome than death? Is there one word more feared and reviled, at least in Western Society? Death is the grim reaper, the final countdown, the end of life. Our death is a subject with which we are distinctly uncomfortable. It is final and absolute. The prospect of dying too painful to even think about. So our best solution to this uncomfortable topic is not to think about it, mention it, or even deal with it. Perhaps, instead, we should think about it and what it means in our lives.
"You're a long time dead," as they say in Ireland. "Live for today, be happy if you can". We don't deal with death until we have no further option, the loss of a loved one, an acquaintance, a family member. Perhaps we think about it when we reach a certain age, and perhaps we are confronted with it when serious illness strikes. The truth is even if we feel mortal then that moment passes with our recovery. We almost want to believe that we are invincible and will live forever.
Our death is the single most unwelcome and feared event in our lives. What though if we were wrong? What if we have been looking down the wrong end of the telescope? What if we have let that fear of death control our lives? Might that fear prevent us from really living and celebrating life for what it could be? Isn't it true also that many people are dissatisfied with their lives? This is not dissatisfaction based on lack of possessions or money. This is an empty life and a lack of meaning and depth in our day to day existence.
We know there is supposed to be more to life. We know there should be. We know in our hearts that our struggles to survive and to accumulate, power or riches, do not make us happy. We know too that people die unfulfilled, with many regrets and all too soon life is over. We know too that suicide rates are higher than ever before. We know that depression increases with the onset of middle age.
Yet our death is the single thing that is guaranteed in life. The same thing applies, though the time frame may vary, to every 'living' thing. Pity the fruit fly, then whose life cycle last about one week. Are we envious of the oak tree, then whose life span extends to a matter of hundreds of years? Probably not, is the answer. Who wants to live forever?
If we were honest, those poor folk of fiction doomed to eternal life, seem very tired with the whole process. The fact is we are all going to die and that death will be the single most important even of our lives. Not only that, we are going to have to deal with the death of grandparents, parents, siblings and even our children. How can it be that we discuss death then only in hushed fearful whispers? Why is death our taboo subject and our greatest fear?
Analysing that fear helps us understand the nature of our reticence. Although half the world for a start doesn't fear death in the way that we in the West do. Eastern religions maintain a belief in reincarnation. They don't believe death is the endgame. Whether we accept a traditional Christian viewpoint or not, death in these terms is not seen as the end of anything other than a spell in this life. In a sense such a death is a rebirth and as much a reason for celebration as anything else. After all, this would at least imply another "crack of the whip," so to speak.
Nevertheless such a rebirth, if possible and even probable doesn't alter the fact of our death and the end of our time on this earth. This moment is for everyone involved a deeply transforming process. The many wonderful people who work in hospices and witness death on a regular basis, give many fascinating accounts of different deaths. They see and hold the hands of people who are afraid to die, as well as those who are prepared. They see those who are reconciled with the world and those who have things left unsaid or undone. It is clear from these experiences that the act of death and the manner or our dying has much to teach us about our lives. The very least of which is the chance to make our peace, to say our farewells, and to organise our affairs.
The remarkable fact is that dying can teach us about living. We are used to thinking the other way around. Perhaps we should ask ourselves why we should be so afraid of the prospect of our death. Of course we perceive it as a final act. Whatever we think about the afterlife or the absence of one, we can agree on that finality. Yet those who do not believe in their hearts in an afterlife or rebirth, are filled with uncertainty. That results in a fear of the unknown. Isn't it interesting that we don't seem to be remotely preoccupied with where we were before we were born?
If we are afraid to die however, is it not true to say that we must also be afraid to live? In the same way that our fear of death, when we examine it, is essentially this, a fear of losing our ego. That is the thing which we have been clinging onto since we were old enough to understand that we were alive. The result is that this fear dominates our lives. We not only refuse to talk about it, we shudder at the thought of it.
No wonder we find the reality so hard to deal with. No wonder we try and hide those who are dying away in hospices. We are terrified and as a result we are unwilling to live. We cling onto ego and we define our lives through possessions or so called success and power. Even though we know that these things bring us no comfort at all and are nothing more than an illusion.
The real life is the one that has our death at its head. It is the one that dares to live fully, to engage in experience and to learn and to grow. It is one that is filled with happiness and lived in the moment, knowing that there is no other. It is a life that has no fear of love or intimacy. It is one where we do not cling to others or old habits. It is one in which we learn to let go of the ego and become 'selfless'.
Death can transform life. It is a fact that if we accepted it, embraced it, were not afraid to discuss it, our lives would be much richer. We would feel stronger and if we were not afraid of such a loss of ego, what could stand in our way? All fears stem from this fear, which is in essence a fear of the unknown and of nothingness. We stand to lose nothing and gain everything.
If we tried to move away from our fear - through understanding learning and reading we would find that there is a place where people who love life and all it has to teach us, do not fear death. They see it as a natural progression and even embrace it and give it its rightful place in our lives.
The fact is that many of us live in a culture that celebrates worthless and pointless values. We live in a constant denial of the fact of our death. We allow ourselves very little preparation. We need to demystify death not to deny it. We need to make it a part of our lives. To do that means accepting our own religious beliefs in the afterlife or studying the religious beliefs of others in the hope that we too can find acceptance and peace of mind.
When we learn to accept that, we might learn to live without fear. Our lives have been moving towards this point. Life is a preparation for death. All of us will go there one way or another. If you had the choice, and the supreme privilege of this life is that you have: which way would you choose? Would your life be a happy fulfilled one until death or a fearful one because of death? It's time we faced our fears and made death a part of our lives.
Why are we so afraid of death?
Why do we try to hide?
Especially those with no belief
In life on the other side?
Death is a part of living
That we must accept if we
Are to have peace and contentment
Because can't you see
If we live with fear all the while
It must affect our own lifestyle
We substitute peace of mind
For money and power and we find
That life is not as it should be
So accept death and you'll feel free.
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