March 12, 2010


And to remind you all of what should be the measure of a human being, I'll leave the stage for two of the most powerful and true speeches that were ever written, that were ever delivered, and neither of them was delivered in the real world, not by politicians, not by leaders. They were delivered by actors.

And isn't that just the saddest thing? 

Yes, delivered by actors. As only great actors can. Both speeches are somewhat elusively connected to myself. The first one is from Grapes Of Wrath, spoken by Henry Fonda in the movie version.

And why is that connected to me? Because John Steinbeck's family – paternally – comes from my home town, true story, you can even Wikipedia it, and the farm just outside this town is still called GroƟsteinbeck... yes, Steinback's grandfather shortened the name when they emigrated to the United States.

I wish I could give you a YouTube version of it being actually spoken, but I cannot find one, so the words will have to do.
I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where...
...wherever you can look. 

Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there.
Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. 
I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad 
I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready.
An' when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build...
....I'll be there, too.
And don't forget it. Don't ever forget it.

The second speech, well... you should know that one. It's the final speech, given by Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dicator. And well, since I am German, I am somewhat very protective of that movie, because Chaplin did something only a true genius can. He exposed the utter insanity of what happened in my country at that time. There have been many movies about World War 2 and Nazi Germany, some good, some not so much, some entertaining, some not so much...

... and by the way, I actually like Tom Cruise's performance in Valkyrie, with all of its flaws and the predictability of the plot not being successful in the end, because it is a valuable film, it tells you true things, whether you like to hear them or not, it tells you that even in the most adverse circumstances, you have to do right, you cannot hide behind your own fear, you have to do right, you have to fight, and just for that I cannot fault Tom Cruise, despite all of his couch jumping and silly Scientology faith...

... but no movie ever condensed its message with such perfection as The Great Dictator. No movie ever showed what we should all be fighting for, showed the lies of those who promise you that they are on your side (I am looking at you, Sarah Palin, I am looking at you Guido Westerwell)... only to fleece you, to rape you, to enrich themselves and base their leadership on subtle and/or overt hatred.

Don't forget it. Don't ever forget it.

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 men, white.
We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that.
We want to live by each others' happiness, not by each other's misery.
We don't want to hate and despise one another.
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, 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.
he 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 seventeenth 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 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!