The following is an homage to this speech in the Great Dictator, a political satire comedy-drama film written, directed, produced, scored by and starring Charlie Chaplin in 1940. The speech itself needs no introduction, I doubt anyone can watch it and not be moved. My speech, below, was written with the aim of being an introduction to a video game. The story of that game may yet come to be, but the basis for the setting of that story, was that while humanity grew into it’s solar system, it was unable to rid itself of the habit of war. This speech was meant to be the plea of a candidate for the president of Earth, passionately attempting to gain the votes of his fellow Terrans, to become the most powerful person on Earth, with every genuine intention of using that power to end war, both on and off our home world. The story calls for his campaign ending in failure, cementing the continued, now seemingly unavoidable warring nature of mankind. From that dark footing, a story about the end of human war for all time would unfold.
I have no desire for the office for which I am running. It’s not ambition, or the want for victory that drives me. I can truly say, with all my heart, that I am driven by one deep purpose. That purpose is duty. I stand before you today not to ask something of you, but to offer something, my service. I know many of you fear I lack the militaristic fortitude to promise this world the safety and security it so deserves. And if war is the only way to provide that security, then surely your fears are warranted, for if elected, I will send not one single soul to war ever again. I can only beseech you to imagine a different future for our world. I beg of you only this, listen to my request with open ears and open heart.
The world can be a good place. You are all afraid that this violence, these wars under which we have always lived are unavoidable, a reality of being human, but hear me now, they are not. Look around you today, do you not see prosperity? Do you not see kindness in the mothers around you who love and nurture their children? Do you not see it in the father who teaches all his children how to be good and happy in this world. Have we not all seen and felt the unequivocal love of weddings, birthdays, holidays, and funerals. The good Earth is rich, and full of love. That love and kindness can be everywhere, we can spread it to every corner of this world. We can live together in harmony, forgetting these implements of war and violence. We’ve come through slavery, torture, and rape. All of which used to be commonplace among all the nations of the world. Why should ending war be any different, it’s simply the last bastion of hate that we have yet to stamp out of the human soul.
Glory has poisoned humanity’s soul. Adrenaline and pride have goose-stepped us into war and death. We’ve lost all sight of war’s horror, all memory of a different way. Our children have developed courage, but we have betrayed that greatness. Machines that promise to end wars send children to their death only faster. Our intelligence has made us callous, our patriotism blind and unwise. We think war is reality and peace is weakness. We build more technology, but only to see men die. More than technology, we need humanity. More than bravery, we need patience. Without these qualities, war will rage on, and quietly or not, we shall go into the night.
Networks pull us closer together, while our violence tears us further apart. Our mastery of the cosmos and the atom eliminates the very memory of poverty and hunger. In return, we brought to the heavens; war. We can travel with ease to every corner of our solar system, bringing with us the stench of death. The very nature of the growth of our species cries out for unity and peace. But even as I speak to you now, women die at their sister’s hands. Trapped in a cycle that makes men kill. To those that can hear me I say, do not despair. The violence that remains among us is but the passing of our last great malady. But just like all the other mountains we’ve surmounted together, the progress of humanity is coming. The pain of our wars will be snuffed out. Forever gone from our litany.
But today, is not yet that day. Today, we must still look to that future, and ask ourselves what we must do to get there. Knowing, full well as we ask, we have the power to make this day come to be. Long gone are the days of the dictator, dead are the monarchs of old. Today our rule is the people, today it is democracy and freedom of information that rules our worlds. And that means we have the power to do anything. We the people, old words but true. We the people, can and will write our future. We the people, will refuse a budget that favors a military. We the people, will refuse to kill, for any reason. We the people, will change the face of humanity.
Soldiers, don’t give your life to hate. There is nothing left in our world that calls for killing. There is no poverty, barely disease. We’ve mastered our star, and information is rich, and free. Even the oppression we once felt from religious extremism has all but evaporated in the bright future we’ve made for today. But why still is it necessary for us to kill one another? It is not. There is no call for it anymore, none but the pride of petty politicians, greedy corporations, or flatly evil men. None of these are good enough! Greed, pride, and villainy have no place in the bright future we’ve made for today! Possess now, great courage, to defend your communities against the greatest enemy of all; the darker parts of ourselves. Be the protectors and warriors who have fought for their loved ones for generations! But rise now, not to fight your brothers and sisters, but the demons within us all. Rise now to the aid of all humanity! Rise now and usher in the goodness we’ve all fought and died for together. Rise now, and end war for all time!!
The monk Thich Naht Hanh, over a hundred years ago, wrote: “When conditions are sufficient things manifest. When conditions are no longer sufficient things withdraw.” My friends, the conditions for war are no longer sufficient! There is no religious doctrine left to murder over, no dictators sending boys to their death. There is no call for the continuation of killing. Another wise man, Sir Isaac Newton once said: “A body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.” War is that body, we must be that outside force. Let force not be the term by which men conquer any longer. Let it stand for the bravery with which we rise up! Let force be the flag of peace, let it inspire in us the courage to end hatred. Let our children sing songs not of how we died in valor, but in how we ended death for death’s sake. Now is the moment, we are the force, liberty, beauty, serenity, they are ours for the taking! Join humanity in this fight!
In the American Declaration of Independence it is said: “all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Once again, like so many times, in so many nations before, we must abolish the forms to which we are accustomed, for our very future depends on it. By this notion, many wars have been fought, and many advances in the story of humanity have come of them. But today must be different than all days before. Today must be the first day in which humanity takes it’s giant leaps through peace not war. Let us fight using patience, let us conquer our fears, and subdue our anger. Let us write a new a chapter in the history of humanity like none that have come before. Let us find within each of us the full potential that is promised in the eyes of every child! Terrans, in the name humanity, join me!
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