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Depressing or Uplifting?

October 27, 2011
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The other day my friend posted a YouTube video on my Facebook wall. It was the famous speech by Charlie Chaplin in the The Great Dictator set to a montage of images, everything to airplanes and iPhones to protests and refugees. My friend found it poignant and optimistic. I agree with the poignancy of it, but for whatever reason the optimistic note of it kind of just left me feeling sour. Have I become too much of a cynic? The film is from 1940 and yet here we are 70 years later acting as moronic as ever.

I wonder if we do think too little, as Chaplin says. It seems to me that a main reason we get strung along by dictators and crazy people is that the naïve masses follow along with their eyes shut and ears covered.

“Brutes have risen to power; they lie, they do not fulfill their promise, they never will.” This is the most telling line out of Chaplin’s speech for me. The men and women running democratic countries are so often spineless and/or power hungry that the campaign promises they make are almost always broken. It’s enough to make one lose faith in the democratic promise, which is not surprisingly why most people probably don’t even bother voting.

Nevertheless, I will continue to vote even though I A) don’t trust most candidates, and B) disagree with what they propose to do, with the hopes that some day a true voice of sanity, compassion and reason will surface. Even among this torrent of chaos that whips around us, I hold a glimmer of hope that some day enough of us will join together to truly make a positive difference. Because it’s what’s behind the one voice that will make sure we stay on the right track. We all need to hold each other accountable, right?

I guess this speech does leave me hopeful in the end. It’s hidden under a shroud of misanthropic cynicism with a dash of despair, but it’s there and I’ll certainly try my best to hold on to it.

Now that I’ve shot any happy thoughts anyone may have had into the ground, may I just say I hope you have a wonderful day!

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