Congratulations to our English Speaking Union Team (ESU) who competed at the recent Regional Final in Cheshire. The final was held at The Grange School.
A hard fought battle between the top schools in the North West took place, although not winning, our team displayed a maturity well ahead of their age, an in-depth knowledge of the topic and an intelligent approach to a most difficult genre.
Speaking on their return to the college, Headteacher, Paul Dickinson said, “we are very proud of our public speaking success over many years, our teams give up many hours of preparation for the various competitions and this amazing group of students carried on the tradition.” Well done.
The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed
Steve Biko wrote “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed,” – but is this true?
I am going to show you that the quote used in our title here this afternoon is indeed horribly true, and leave you in no doubt that evil people do indeed use our vulnerabilities against us. They use people’s minds to keep them under control in an unfair and cruel way and so become our oppressors.
Evil people do their utmost to destroy our minds by taking away our freedom of thought, our beliefs and our faith. And by doing this, they create fear, hate, and misery. Oppressors alter our mindsets by making us scared to step out of the shadows and change our opinions by giving us no choice. Thus, we become oppressed.
But in life, we search for those special individuals who refuse to be oppressed. Their strength of mind allows them to rise up and seek the truth and challenge their circumstances. They become a beacon for other people to follow, creating a spark of hope that turns into a flame, extinguishing the power of our oppressors.
Nelson Mandela is an example of someone who overthrew his oppressors. The black people of South Africa were kept oppressed and lived in fear. Many black and white people accepted the situation. But Mandela did not. He found the strength of mind to overcome his oppressors. Instead of becoming downtrodden and learning to hate white people, he kept his mind open to love and hope. After spending 27 brutal years in prison, his first act on being released, was to hug his white prison guard. One hug, one act of love born of a free mind, and Mandela freed the world.
In 2013, 15 year old Malala Yousafzai stood up to her oppressors and demanded her right to education. Education is a life line, a path to freedom. But not for Malala. She determinedly set off every day to school, only to be one day shot in the head and neck for standing up to her oppressors. This should have broken her spirit. But despite this terrible attack, Malala refused to be oppressed. She said, “nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.” By staying mentally strong, Malala defeated her oppressor’s most powerful weapon.
Finally, returning to Steve Biko who died at the hands of the apartheid police having been handcuffed and beaten for 20 days. The news of Biko’s murder caused national outrage. But through the power of his words, that lived on in the minds of so many, the act of violent oppression carried out on him, ultimately allowed people to find hope, and eventually their own freedom.
Clearly, evil people do indeed use the minds of those they try to oppress, as powerful ammunition. But, the courage and strength of many outstanding individuals often gives the rest of us the power to break the bonds of oppression. If we are neutral in situations of injustice and fail to wield OUR most potent weapon, we fall on the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you stay neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your weakness of mind.
Ladies and gentlemen, do not stand by and be passive. Do not allow your minds to become weak. Instead, deploy your own, most powerful weapon. Stay mentally strong. Stand proud, seek the truth and refuse to be oppressed.