Thursday, July 30, 2015

"The Greatest Speech Ever Made"

Charlie Chaplin delivering what some people call "The Greatest Speech Ever Made"

If the above image looks familiar to you, then you might be one of the tens of millions of people who've watched the version of Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator which was edited by The Lakey Sisters and posted to Youtube in 2011 (that or perhaps you've actually seen the film. In which case, you're awesome!). 

This video was titled "The Greatest Speech Ever Made" and alone has garnered almost 15 million views (many others have since copied and reposted it, driving up the views even higher). 

If you haven't seen the video or haven't even heard this movie speech before, you can check out the link above or watch the video right here:

Definitely an awesome speech. As I mention above, the speech was written and delivered as part of Chaplin's 1940 film, The Great Dictator. This film was produced as a political satire of the war machine and political tyrants, specifically of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. 

Amazingly, the message of the film, and especially of this speech, still hold true today. We are still plagued by fear and jealousy, we still break the backs of the poor and working class to support the aristocracy, we still have the capability to work together to solve our global issues and yet we go our separate ways and we focus solely on our own little problems. 

Our globe is still fraught with people who want to rule others and tell others what to think. People are still "barricaded by hate", and we still see our neighbors withering in pain and hunger while we turn our heads. Yet, as Chaplin said, "the good Earth is rich" and "the way of life could be free and beautiful". We could learn to embrace our technology while still building upon our morality and our understanding of each other and our place in the cosmos. We could progress forward while still protecting the rest of the biosphere. We could live in a world beyond "machine men, with machine minds, and machine hearts".

I don't know if Charlie Chaplin's speech from The Great Dictator is the greatest speech ever made, but it's definitely an incredible testament to Chaplin's capability and thoughtfulness as an actor, a writer, and a human being. 

It's saddening to know that our species is not yet healed of our delusions of power and wealth. To think that we still haven't found a way to unite and surpass our fears of 'otherness' is to realize that we are still, in many ways, children. Chaplin's speech is an inspiration and a remembrance of our need for hope and, even more so, our need to work together to achieve the beautiful future that many of us know is possible.

For those who are interested, here's the script from that speech:

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 man, white. 

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s 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 has 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 men, 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, 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 the 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 17th Chapter of St Luke it is 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 that 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!

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