In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy talks about the new movie ‘The King’s Speech’ and its great message of hope.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 15th February 2011.

The King’s Speech is a fantastic film telling the true story of the father of the present Queen Elizabeth of England.  He was second in line to the throne but then his father George V died and his elder brother Edward VIII, abdicated before his coronation to marry the divorced American, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, and to live in exile as the Duke of Windsor.

At a worrying time for the world, therefore, as war approached, George VI, came to the throne without having had a lifetime’s expectation of undertaking this role. It was a serious worry for him, his wife and the wider royal family. He was also becoming King at a time when technology had developed dramatically, the country and the commonwealth were expecting to hear the new monarch on the radio. 1930s Britain was the dawning of a new media age. This was an agony for the new King, since he had long suffered from a severe stammer. A stammer and speech impediment that silenced his confidence and brought with it a very low self esteem.

This enthralling film evolves around the unorthodox approach to improving the flow of his speech adopted by an Australian, Lionel Logue, and the friendship which developed between the King and this true visionary was remarkable. The King’s friend Mr. Logue offered him a chance to revisit some of the reasons why his self confidence was so low. The King shares a vulnerable childhood story. A story where he was abandoned to some horrible nanny’s lacking necessary parental love. He believed as a young boy that there was something wrong with him because of an inadequate attention given to him by his parents. His stuttering became a real issue from five years onward. The King’s Speech is a story of hope. A story of finding our voice and in doing so being confident. Contributing what we have to say in a very positive way.

Perhaps the popularity of this true story and movie is because most of us at times in our lives struggle with truly finding our own voice. We all know that all of us respond much better to people who encourage, affirm and are positive, as opposed to others who may put down, be negative and control. Our culture in the past, regrettably may well have left young people precisely loosing their voice, feeling inferior and imbibing a negative self image.

Last week in his weekly column, ‘Godfrey’s Gospel’ Michael mentioned ‘The church continues to pay lip-service to change’. I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments. However, the Gospel is a powerful voice that encourages all of us not to whisper but to speak loudly. We are described frequently by the Lord, as the ‘Light of the world’ and ‘Salt of the earth’. Institutions that control and fail to listen to its members simply become irrelevant and die. The days of hierarchical control especially in our church needs to die quickly. The Gospel message of Jesus Christ is a joyful, uplifting and affirming one.

When the King found his voice quickly things began to change for him. His speech consoling the commonwealth on the eve of the second world war was a remarkable one. These days when we have an opportunity for real change in our country may we not be shy to speak loudly.