I have been low-level obsessed with an ad, and the questions it raises.
A friend sent along this phenomenal ad from Italian coffeemaker Lavazza this week, and of course what is so striking is how relevant the message is. Even more so when you learn that it’s from a speech Charlie Chaplin made in 1940.
The speech comes from a Chaplin film, The Great Dictator, made as a political satire of the rise of Adolf Hitler. And while the speech and film had a controversial reception, 80 years later it seems to have found new relevance. I find myself asking some tough questions about America in light of some of its words. Questions like:
Is this who we are?
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.
Do we believe this about the world?
In this world there’s room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful.
Is this where we are?
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.
Is this what technology has done?
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.
This, I don’t have any questions about.
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.
Do I believe this?
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.
Is this an accurate depiction of what’s happening now?
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 seventeenth chapter of Saint 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.
This part, I believe.
You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
How does our world today stack up against this?
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.
Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
What about this part (taken out of order)?
Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.
Is this who we are?
Soldiers: In the name of democracy, let us all unite!!!https://www.americanrhetoric.com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeechthegreatdictator.html
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