Visions should be full of wonder
I was the last speaker in the last round of this debate tournament, at least for our team. It was the one tournament I had invited my parents to come and see me perform in my new VIsion: Debate. I had been tearing it up on the trail across Texas, winning many rounds and tournaments, with “hardware” (trophies) becoming a natural thing to bring back home to Tyler late almost every Saturday night. This was not that wonderful experience.
Do Visions make you wonder what is really important?
Our team was actually legendary across the state. Tyler Lee – yes – Robert E. Lee High School – was known as a powerhouse team from the late ’60s. Our coach, Alan Shumate, was a legend both with students and other coaches, building teams that repeatedly won the National Debate tournament. I had been welcomed into the team as a sophomore but didn’t really start debate until I was a Junior when I was what they called a “Novice”. And having had an extra year to prepare and hone my speaking abilities, I had plenty of time to wonder and learn how the team went about winning so much.
Similarly, MLK proceeded to join the school’s Debate team after winning the speech contest from yesterday. I can’t find much written about his abilities and wonder if it was segregated, and if so, I bet he wanted to really take on the other white boys and show them. His passion and energy I can understand – it drove me also. He also got into physical altercations with boys in his neighborhood, but often used his knowledge of words to stymie fights. Similarly, still the shortest kid in High School, I often would belittle bullies with wordplay, almost always publically to humiliate them into wonderfully backing down. It is a skill I still have, and one that erupts when my animal instincts are triggered. You can see that same fire in MLK as he continues to hone his approach to changing life around him, one that took the wonderful bend towards non-violence.
What others’ Visions will cause you to wonder … and adapt?
Most of my Debate teammates and competitors were all destined for law school. It was the logical next step and one that would have made complete sense given my path forward for this Vision would land there. Indeed, my best friend was on his way to Law School, and we probably could have been roommates – other than the pact we made to go somewhere that no one would know us. Our Vision was to be able to re-invent – or at least show new people what we had invented as our vision.
I have no idea if this tournament had anything to do with it, but I was really embarrassed that my parents saw these particular rounds. By this point, I had the ability to pick my own partner – overriding what Shumate had recommended. It is no wonder I lost every round – the person I picked was a friend, and really not that good. Shumate knew that – and let me live with the Vision that played out. Regardless, my path into engineering and science was sealed with the statement from Dad – “You can go to Law School – right after you graduate from Engineering School”
What about your Vision makes others wonder?
Hopefully, this is causing you to think about which of the empower competencies are we on today – because most all show up. Without good partners, and great observations, you can only wonder what your Vision would actually have been. In my case, I am forever grateful for that declaration. Engineering is all about optimizing things within constraints… and once you realize that, constraints encourage amazing wonder, you can see why so many talented creative people go into a field that most disregard as boring. I often hear that from people – “You can’t be an engineer – you are WAY too creative”. Yes… and, isn’t that a wonderful thing … now.
Without wondering, your Vision will be stale and…
MLK could have continued on the path of really focusing on what was wrong with America, and the wonderful thing is – he DID. But with a unique approach that brought people together and built a coalition that I believe is only being tested more – but is still there, or at least I hope it is. We have lived through an incredibly divisive period for the last few years, and I really wonder what MLK would say if he were here now. I suspect that the power and fire of that young Debater would school us all… and call us all to really focus on a Vision together that is still there, still the same. It is one that is captured in another of his favorite songs, and that focuses on unity of Vision, and played here by one of my favorite artists.
What about your Vision makes others wonder?
Vision – wonderful – and something that you need to constantly re-examine. It is interesting that MLK’s holiday is always just a few weeks into every year – a reminder of the life that he lived out around us, and is still wonderfully with us. What do you with that legacy and the amazing leadership that … you have? Remember, he was just like us… a misfit teenager channeling his power and creativity into a path that looks amazing now – but really he is just at a crossroads… with conflicting signposts. And yet – with a wonderful and clear vision – In Christ there is no East or West.