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Charlie Chaplin's Thoughts on War and Peace

In the movie (actually a "talkie") The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin (wrote, starred, and directed) created a comedy/tragedy about the rise of facism during the second world war. The antagonist is "Adenoid Hynkel" (hitler), and there is a simple barber who is a dead ringer for the Nazi dictator. Near the end of the story, Chaplin (who has now been mistaken for Hynkell) along with Major Shultz (a general that was ordered killed by Hynkell when he dared to oppose him). Anyway, these two are thrust into the middle of the triumphal speech after Termania has successfully invaded their neighboring country, Osteralich. The minister of propaganda, Joseph Garbage gets up to give his introductory speech for Hynkel: "Goebels": Corona vedea invectus. Victory shall come to the worthy. Today, Democracy, Liberty and Equality are words to fool the people. No nation can progress with such ideas -- therefore, we thankfully abolish them. In the future, each man will serve the interests of the state with absolute obedience. Let him who refuses, be ware: The rights of citizenship will be taken away from all Jews and non Aryians. THey are inferior and therefore enemies of the state. It is the duty of all true Aryians to hate and despise them. Henceforth, this nation is annexed to the Termanian Empire. And the people of this nation will obey the laws bestowed upon us by our great leader: The Dictator of Termania, the Conqueror of Ostrelich, the future Emperor of the World. (Major Shultz, speaks quietly to Charlie Chaplin -- whom everyone thinks is really Hynkel): You must speak. Chaplin: I can't. Shultz: You must. Its our only hope. (Chaplin gets up, and slowly walks up the stairs to the podium. Goebels salutes, Chaplin merely bows, he approaches the microphone, and after several seconds speaks): I'm sorry. But, I don't want to be an emperor -- that's not my business. I don't want to conquer anyone; I should like to help everyone if possible: Jew, Gentile Black man, White -- we all want to help one another: Human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other's happiness not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. There's room enough for everyone. The good Earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life could 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 our selves in. Machinery that gives abundance, has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness -- hard and un-kind. 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 men. Cries out for the universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now, my voice is reaching millions throughout the world. Millions despairing: Men, Women, 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 merely the passing of Greed. The bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men who will pass and dictators who will die. And the power that they took from the people, will return to the people And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Soldiers! Don't give your selves to brutes. Men who despise you, enslave you, regiment your lives, who tell you what to do, what to think, what to feel. Treat you like cattle. Use you as cannon fodder. Don't give your selves to these un-natural men -- machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines, you are not cattle. You are men. You have the love humanity in your hearts. You don't hate -- only the un-loved hate; the un-loved and the un-natural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery -- fight for liberty. In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke, it is written that 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 to create machines, 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 the old a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power -- but they lie. They do not fulfill their promises -- 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 unite! (as he finishes, there is applause by the masses, and music. The camera shows his girl friend laying on the ground, where the storm troopers have left her, she stays there, but then lifts up her head from the ground to hear... (again Chaplin speaking; softly): Hannah, can you hear me? Hannah? Where ever you are, look up Hannah. The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness and into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kindlier world, where men rise above their hate, their greed, and brutality. Look up Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. To fly into the rainbow. Into the light, into the future, into the glorious future. The future that belongs to you, that belongs to me, that belongs to us all. Look up Hannah, Look up. -- Charles "Charlie" Chaplin. Back to the Cloister's Main Page To the Humor page for Charlie Chaplin

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