Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Charlie Chaplin's Final Speech in "The Great Dictator"

While I was at work today, a facebook friend of mine posted this video online. While watching it, I immediately began to choke up. I felt something again. For the first time in months, I felt that there was some sense of goodness out there, and that there are others who know it exists. I sat there weeping at my desk, wanting so badly to believe in what the little man with the Hitler mustache was saying. For a brief moment, it made me feel human again.

For those interested, the full text of the speech is below.

"I'm sorry but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others' happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men's souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say "Do not despair." The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men---machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite! "

Friday, December 9, 2011

An Apology and a Suggestion

Dear friends and readers of my little blog,

It has been quite some time since my last post. I have been in the thick of some serious spiritual and emotional difficulties, and suffice it to say that I've been feeling a little more "everyday" than "revolutionary" lately. It might be a delusion of grandeur to believe that anyone has actually missed any posts here, but I apologize for my own inactivity. I am working through a mound of junk in my head and in my heart, but will be posting regularly again soon, once I can sort out my thoughts.

In the meantime, I would love it if you could do me a favor. Please check out my friend Mark's blog, Points on the Wheel. Mark and I have been close friends for a couple years now; both of us share a passion for service and a mutual (and I would say, "healthy") mistrust of the institutional Church. So here's a bit of "revolutionary" to go with your "everyday": Mark is attempting to do wonderful, wonderful things in Haiti (that's right...remember Haiti?). He is an inspiration to me, and given the chance, I think he can inspire you, too. Check out his blog, get a feel for the work he does, and consider making a contribution of $10 to help his cause. We are in the midst of one of the most frenzied seasons celebrated by a consumer-obsessed culture; perhaps instead of buying that extra sweater your uncle would never wear anyway, your money can go to help fund the building of a locally operated chicken farm in Haiti.

It's a small price to pay for the realization of what Jesus called the "Kingdom of God" in the here and now. My friend Mark calls it the "Dream of God." Dream on, my friends. Dream on.