A Milloni Ijayo

1 Corinthians 2:9

“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

“A million miles.”

I competed in a national speech and debate league for six years, in addition to the extra four years when I was involved as a young timer. At every tournament, the stakes were high, and competitors split into different speech categories to compete against speeches of that type. During my time as a competitor, the winners of every tournament were announced during the awards ceremony which follows the final rounds of the last day.

Some of my most cherished memories came from those ceremonies. In Resolve, the club I competed with, we always sat together and cheered on other club members when they placed in various events. Not all competitors get the opportunity to go on stage. Most tournaments only bring semi-finalists and finalists on stage, with only the top three or top five receiving physical trophies. Sometimes, depending on the size of the tournament, we would cheer on our friends as they placed well, and when we went to the National tournament each year our competing club members cheered on our fellow Coloradan clubs when they placed.

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The camaraderie we formed with our clubs, state, and other competitors from out-of-state are some of the most life filled moments that I remember. At my last tournament of my senior year in high school, I no longer cared about trophies. Somehow, my focus had shifted from winning and constantly seeking success, to making relationships and performing at my personal best.

Anyway, the last tournament.

We finally got to the award ceremony after four grueling days of competing in numerous rounds that begun at 8 am in the morning until 9 pm each night. The tournament director walked on stage and addressed what was likely on everyone’s mind. Where were the trophies?

You see, usually upon entering the sanctuary (which was the largest room at most facilities and where we had the award ceremony) we could see the stage with tables lined with trophies at each tournament. However, this tournament was different.

The director went on to inform us that, knowing many of us had gone to numerous tournaments each year, they also knew that most students got tired of trophies when they compete so often. Instead, they decided to take the part of the tournament budget that normally went toward awards, and donated it to an organization called Blood Water. To replace the trophies, we received pins for each place awarded.

In addition, every competitor received a leather bracelet given to the director by the organization they helped. Imprinted on each bracelet were these words :

Milloni Ijayo”

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The translation for this is, “a million miles.” It represented the commitment of many people in countries where water is scarce and safe water is difficult. The commitment was from those who had to walk many miles away in order to get clean water for their families. Blood Water is an organization which take donations and go into villages with no clean water, and install wells and even family sized filters so that villages away from clean sources of water can drink without fear.

That tournament was one of my favorites. It touched me how the club and director running the tournament had chosen, by unanimous assent, to give up trophies in order to help people they never met.

It takes courage to commit. Those living and speaking the loudest today do not seem to know how to commit. It is the ultimate testament to pride and cowardice to refuse something on the basis of having to promise time and effort to it. To not commit is to shrink in fear, to remain in the dark, stale, motionless state that is the state we remain without risk. To never commit is to never open ourselves to new opportunities.

Why is this generation so cowardly with their time that they cannot bear to give some of it to another? How can we be so selfish as to resume all steps forward in favor of a life we take for granted? Perhaps this problem is not so new that it can only be tagged to this generation. However, it is clear that we do not tend to take commitments too seriously. Since when did we always make the best decisions? Since when did we learn that the safest course is the one without risk?

Surely I say to you, no path is more dangerous than the path of the safe. No place is more disastrous to potential as the one that loosens the grip at the first blister. For the path of the tolerant, subservient, group-thinking, bandwagon, self-serving time table, to that overdrive to work and fear of family. To the parties and one night stands.

So, the only question is the one which follows through. The one which continues pressing forward when all seems lost. To the persistent, weak but brave, those who do not have a chance for success, but who do not give up. For the everlasting promise of safety relies on the current loss of sight.

I have one question:

Can you go a million miles to become who you really are? A milloni ijayo.

Be blessed today.

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