The message of this speech, its language, its delivery, and the images that accompany it are so powerful and true. I had to share and transcribe it here. This speech, made in Charlie Chaplan's 1940 fictional film The Great Dictator, was delivered in satirical defiance of Adolf Hitler. But how relevant and brilliant these words are today:
I'm sorry. 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 others' happiness, not by each others' misery. We don't 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. It has barricaded the world with hate. It 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 airplane 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 children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
For 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, 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 giver yourself 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.
And 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!!
It seems like an infinite struggle to determine an equitable share of the tax load between the upper and middle classes in the United States. Last December, our holiday season was marked with the threat of raised taxes against the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts for our wealthiest neighbors. Well, the fat cats celebrated a happy new year last year, with their hard-earned tax dollars safely tucked away in their pockets (oops! I meant trickled down to the rest of us, of course), costing the U.S. treasury millions of dollars every day.
This holiday season, middle class taxes are on the table again, and if Congress doesn't act in the next 21 days, they will be raised. Whether or not this will actually happen should be enough of a concern for working families during a time of year when money seems to be slipping through their fingers, but unfortunately, there's more.
Our Congress is mulling the idea of leaving our taxes be, but they're also considering a slew of riders onto this slight concession that are, to say the least, terrifying. On the republican chopping block to pass this year's spending bill:
-The right of the Washington D.C. government to fund abortions for poor women*
-Federal funding for needle exchange programs, which are effective in reducing HIV transmission**
-EPA's ability to regulate methane emissions from farms and designate new wetlands for protection, and a limit on their regulatory power in CO2 emissions, coal ash, and oil refineries
-Federal funding for family planning services, and implementation of more grant-incentivized abstinence-only sex education
-The ability of Cuban-American citizens to visit family in Cuba
These riders are completely ideological, and for the most part will have no major effect on the federal budget (government funding of needle exchange, for example, is largely symbolic and very few dollars are actually spent on supporting these programs). And while it's unlikely that all of them will pass this time (although the D.C. abortion ban already has), the fact that they are continually discussed is a frightening thing. Removing evidence-based practices such as family planning services, and plowing forward with inept ideological principles, such as abstinence-only education will have serious implications for our nation's already sub-par health status. Limiting the power of our government to protect us from environmental hazards because such regulation would hamper the market-justice of top polluting corporations is something like evil, and keeping families separated because of some archaic political agenda is simply cruel.
Personally, when I read about these measures taking place within a government that is supposed to represent my voice, I feel marginalized. I feel terrorized. And despite calling my representatives, signing petitions, occupying my city and writing this blog, I feel voiceless and powerless against their acts of injustice. Now, I know that our nation's political definition of "terrorism" involves murderous intent and a heaping amount of racism, but what if the term also applies to continuous and prolonged threats against our rights, our health, and our vitality? When a body is acting out of ignorance and ideological extremism to the ultimate peril of a vulnerable group, what do you call it?
You know an issue is significant when the last three presidents of the United States dedicate time in the same day to raising awareness about it. Check out this powerful program on the beginning of the end of AIDS. It includes great panel dialogue featuring presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, as well as other insightful and inspirational folk: