“The Keyword? – Integrity.” by Leonor Bento – Discurso apresentado na Competição Nacional no British Council

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Foto de Rosa Walpole, Leonor no Salão Nobre do British Council, Lisbon

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen


The Second World War, the end of colonialism, our own Revolution of 1974, the Arab Spring – what have all these world events have in common? – That’s right. You’ve guessed it – people wanted to live in a democracy, they wanted to live better, to see their human rights respected, they wanted to live in peace, they wanted future generations to have a future, a good future. So how can we explain the turmoil our world is in today?

Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others.  Is it possible, then, to improve this form of government in order to create a fairer society?

In my speech today I’d like to show you that democracy is like a code and the keyword to crack this code is integrity. – Integrity is like a master key that opens all doors and grants access to the reality of true values, which will guide the young adults of today in planning a successful future.

For me, integrity represents quality or wholesomeness and is therefore a synonym for honesty, righteousness, impartiality. Integrity is a fundamental value, but, unfortunately, it is often ignore nowadays. I can actually say that the abyss between what many people say and what they do is something I consider worthy of study, be it in economy, politics, education or science, as the consequences of this abyss are dire for all humanity as we have been witnessing recently.

Integrity is challenging and difficult to practice in a world full of misunderstandings and conflicting values. In order to help you understand my point of view and successfully share what I believe in, I leave you with a few questions for reflection:

* Are our actions in agreement with what we say?

* Are we the type that says “do what I say, but don’t do what I do” ?

* Can we listen more than we talk and respect other people’s point of view?

Well, to be a person with integrity, we cannot fluctuate according to the moment or the situation in which we find ourselves, just to satisfy our own interests. In doing so we wouldn’t be respecting the law, rules or regulations that apply to our lives and to our society, and very likely we would be harming those around us. Such actions and behavior would – or should not leave us at peace with our conscience. Living in democracy is living on equal terms with our fellow citizens.

As a young citizen who wants to contribute to the transformation of this world that calls itself “modern”, I feel the need to leave behind the hype imposed by this consumerist, seductive and highly competitive society of ours, and I refuse to become an untrustworthy person, who only thinks of others as competitors. I definitely will not erect barriers all around me, which would generate a real island, and make me think I don’t need anyone to achieve my goals. – I want to share my goals with all the other citizens. To that end, I once again advise the correct utilization of the keyword – integrity.

This keyword creates ties, builds bridges, leads to excellence, requires sharing life experiences and challenges and these are what will bring about universal peace, love, respect, freedom, humility, equality. These are simple words but very important values that don’t interfere with religion, with origin, with color or level of education. These values make me realize that integrity depends on the obvious and provides us with happiness.

After reading a scientific article from Harvard University, I concluded that happy people are 85% more productive than unhappy people. This makes me think about my own and other people’s attitudes, opinions, decisions and values. I want to opt for joy and not surrender to sadness and concern, so I will never forget the keyword: INTEGRITY.

Integrity is the keyword to unravel the intricacies of democracy and make it the best form of government for all people, in all nations, in our entire world. Integrity is my hero.

Let’s worship a hero – let our hero be integrity.


Thank you.

Sílvia Ramadas, Departamento de Línguas, Agrupamento de Inglês

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