In honor of Toastmasters International 90th Anniversary, we share this essay by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley originally appeared in the Toastmaster magazine in July 1948.
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS
Toastmasters’ founder shares his vision -Ralph C. Smedley
作者：Ralph C. Smedley
A Toastmasters club is not a propaganda organization. It does not adopt resolutions, sponsor candidates, nor go out for “causes.” It cannot commit its membership in support of any controversial matters, for its members come from all elements of society, and unanimity of opinion is hardly to expected or desired. Different groups—social, political, religious, racial and occupational—are represented in the typical club. It is a cross-section of its community.
A Toastmasters club is definitely a training organization. It welcomes men of all sorts of opinions into its membership and undertakes to train them to think logically and to speak honestly in behalf of whatever cause or procedure they believe in. The work of a Toastmasters club is to help each member to be his best self, as a member of society and as a protagonist of the things that seem to him most worthwhile.
(註1) 標題的原文We Hold These Truth典出美國《獨立宣言》，見下文。
[country’s] forefather of 1776, “We hold these truth to be self-evident,” although our list of “truths” may differ slightly from theirs. But in the Toastmasters club, certain principles are held inviolable. Like our [country’s] forefather of 1776, “We hold these truth to be self-evident,” although our list of “truths” may differ slightly from theirs.
We hold that every man is entitled to freedom of thoughts, as well as freedom of speech. He must be permitted—even encouraged—to study, learn, think and reach his own conclusion.
Every man, having thought, is entitled to freedom of speech. But his hearers have the right to demand that he speak intelligently, reasonably and honestly if he expect them to listen. Every man, speaking his well-considered thoughts, has a right to be heard. His right to be heard is in proportion to the worthiness of his thoughts, and the effectiveness of his speaking.
Every man, having spoken, has a right to listen to others, his listing must be with open mind, with analytical attitude, with a purpose to accept what is true and to reject what is untrue.
Every man has a right to disagree with what other people say, but he must learn to disagree without being disagreeable—to listen to the opposition calmly and without losing his temper or his balance.
Finally, every man has a right to share his thoughts, his ideas and his convictions with everyone who will listen, but he has no right to compel anyone to act unwillingly under his dictation.
I like the definition of individual freedom given by Dr. George Pinckard, an English scholar of the 18 century.
“True liberty,” said Dr. Pinckard, “consists in the privilege of enjoying our own rights, not in the destruction of the rights of others.”
And Frederic Farrar, another great Englishman, said it well with these words: “Man’s liberty ends, and it ought to end, when that liberty becomes the curse of others.”
The Toastmasters Club stands for the integrity of the individual, for the sanctity of human character, and for the right of every man to express himself—always with this eternal and unchangeable rule, that your right are inviolable, and so are mine; your individual rights are limited as soon as they cross my rights; every person must recognize that personal rights are restricted by the rights of others.”
That is the essence of the American ideal of individual freedom. That is what Toastmasters club, in the final analysis, is proud to represent and advocate.
Editor’s note: This essay by Ralph C. Smedley originally appeared in the Toastmaster magazine in July 1948. At that time, women were not part of the organization.
審稿: Howard Chang 張華