Our club meets

Every Wednesday evening except holidays and summer.

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Kings Way Care Centre, 8 Squire Drive in Quispamsis, NB (it's the seniors home on the Gondola Point Arterial) - in the Boardroom.

We'd love to meet you.

There are no meetings on storm days.

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Contact a member.

Prison Bars

by Jean Dickson
Third Place Winning Speech at Toastmasters District 45 Conference
May 2000 New Hampshire

I was 19 years old and only hours before I had been full of audacity - thinking I could handle whatever life passed my way. But now I was limp with terror - limp like the damp facecloth I kept pressing to my friend’s brow.

Months before I dreamt about traveling to a warm, vibrant and distant land. I wanted to spread my wings and fly. Both, in the belly of a mechanical metal bird, and as in taking first steps of adult freedom. Stepping from the plane with my friend, little did I realize the imprint these first few steps would leave on the rest of my life. All I could think was, “Finally, free to do what I want. Away from all the restrictions of home. I was free!” I felt like a tiger let loose after years of captivity. A prisoner released.

My dream started falling apart when my friend complained of being hot - not from the tropical heat - but from an internal fire caused by bacteria. Within only minutes, she wasn’t complaining any more. Instead she was tossing her head, hoarse delirium dreams spewing from her lips.

I knew that the situation was serious. Locking the door behind me, I ran to the front desk of the small, isolated beachfront hotel.

“Is there a doctor nearby?” I asked the two bronze skinned men standing behind the desk.

“No - there are no doctors - but you are in luck.” One then explained that one of the extra staff brought in for the holidays was a medical student in his final year of study. I felt my spirits bud as hope coursed through my veins - I knew my friend would be safe.

Together, the medical student and I walked to my room. When he said my friend was in danger of losing her eyesight because her fever was so high, I put ice cubes on her eyes.

When she moved, the ice fell down her face, leaving snail trails on her cheeks. And I put more ice on. He buzzed around frantically, soaking towels with cool water and placing them on her chest, watching her, telling me how dangerously ill she was. How much she needed his help to survive the night, how if I wanted him to further treat her, then it would cost me something - something that no woman ever wants to give unwillingly.

It was bad. But as painful and hurtful as it was, it was no where as wounding as what happened when I phoned home. The words from my mother were - “you must have done something to make this happen.” You must have done something .... As she said it, the prison bars slammed down and encircled my heart.

Let’s be honest. We ALL hurt others this way - when we all blame them for the evil that comes upon them. If we don’t say it, certainly we think it:

  • Those welfare bums - if only they would get off their buts and look for work.
  • Look at that fatso getting an ice cream cone. Why doesn’t he go on a diet?
  • She must have done something bad for THAT to happen . After all, what goes around, comes around.

I’ve done it myself.

Why do we do it? Maybe it is because we are afraid. We are afraid that it could happen to us. By making the victim “bad,” we distance ourselves from the act, telling ourselves because we are “good” people, it couldn’t happen to us.

We don’t realize that by blaming the victim, something worse is happening to us. Willingly we take the prison bars, and place them around our soul. We forget that “no man is an island.”

Thousands of years ago, a female poet from China wrote, “my heart is not a stone, it cannot be rolled .... ”

I know at times, that I’ve turned my heart to stone and rolled it away from the outstretched arms of people in pain.

I know at times you’ve done the same.

Sometimes it just seems the easier thing to do. But is it worth the price?

I can’t take back the hurtful words my mother spoke. But I can try not to repeat those words to others. Tonight, I ask you to make a decision, to not do something worse. Don’t turn away when people hurt. Reach out to the rest of the world. Make a choice to open the prison bars.

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