I was angry!

Photo by Claus Randrup

Speaker Joseph Hamoud gave a strong talk at TEDxCopenhagen 2012 that had the participants in tears and ended with a standing ovation. Here he reflects upon the experience…

I was standing waiting for my turn to speak when I heard Mikael Colville-Andersen, the presenter of TEDxCopenhagen say my name. I realized I hadn’t heard anything he’d said before nor do I remember anything after that. At that point I had rewritten my speech at least 20 times, I couldn’t really just recite my life or put it into words , funny enough I had an old familiar feeling just before I got on stage – I was angry!

It was like a subconscious reaction to stress and pressure. I wasn’t nervous… I was angry!
I had drafted out some notes just before I went on stage , but when I tried to remember them and couldn’t , I got even more upset and I decided for the most part of it to improvise what I was about to say. So I shoved the papers into my pocket and went on.

At the back of my mind I was thinking of the irony of a dictatorship, what Orewell calls “Doublethink” and “Doublespeak”. What made me angry was the irony of life. The irony of a regime calling its own citizens traitors and terrorists and killing them mercilessly with weapons they themselves bought, by an army who swore to protect them.

When I was up on stage I thought of a joke I once heard in a movie: A man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed, life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears.”But doctor” He says, “I am Pagliacci.”
Good joke. Everybody laughs. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

I was on stage… lights hit me like pointblank shot in the face and suddenly I was calm. At this point all that was going on in my head was, “why am I here?” – “Why everyone else is here?” Because up until that point I wasn’t sure if we were there just to attend this cultural event and cross it out of some to-do list, talk it over with a bunch of friends at dinner over a $400 bottle of wine, or if we were there to help change the world and be part of that morally courageous course that had been set in motion.

Tell you the truth I don’t remember most of my speech. I remember what was going on in my head, but not my speech. I remember the stories I told, because they are engraved in my memory forever; a detail more or a detail less depends on how many cups of coffee I had had and how many hours I had slept. How much I was willing to abandon my usual sarcastic demeanor and head to places in my mind that I usually pass by without looking, like a horrible accident on a highway.

Why did I decide to do a TEDx talk to call for helping the refugees? And why did we start a campaign afterwards to raise funds for them? And why do I think that everyone should be involved in this? Because I want to have faith and hope that people still care. That we are not alone, separate and pathetic. I want to believe that this life is not some sick cold joke and the punch line is our misery.

I have high hopes for our endeavors because of the honor that was bestowed upon me by the amazing reaction of the crowds and then the awesome response to my desire to initiate an action by Ole Kassow who started a fund-raising campaign online and now helping me along with several others – even parliament members – to organize a public rally where we advertise our cause.

We’re also considering starting an NGO that helps war victims and refugees all over the world.

I’m really looking forward to help change the world a bit with these awesome individuals.

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