The following was something I wrote in my journal in 1997 after watching the end of one of my personal favorite comedies of all time, The Great Dictator, from 1940. Charlie Chaplin plays duel roles of a Jewish store owner and, ironically, a Hitler-like dictator. In the final sequence, Chaplin's Jewish store owner character is mistaken for the Hitler character and has to make a speech to an audience of thousands while being broadcast on the radio to millions. I was so emotionally moved by his speech of immense sincerity and pathos that I went back and wrote out his entire speech, word by word. (Also, keep in mind that Chaplin was known for being a silent film star, so hearing his soft voice was truly something to be heard. Find the movie if you can. It was, by the way, immediately banned in Germany upon its initial release.) I thought it would be appropriate to share:
"...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 shall like to help everyone if possible - Jew, Gentile, black man or 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 do not want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone - 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 with misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed and shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives us 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 has brought us closer together, but the very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness of men, cries out for the universal brotherhood - 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 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 that men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers - don't give yourself to brutes - men who despise you, enslave you, regiment your lives, tell you want to do, what to think, 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 that the kingdom of God is within man - not in one man or 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 descent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give you the future, old age, and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie - they have not fulfilled their promise - they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill this 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!!"
- Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.