It’s early morning, the wind has not yet stirred. At dusk the night before, we had quietly set up our canvas tent, and, a little before sunrise, folded back the opening. It is officially prohibited to sleep in the vicinity of the lake, but each day we’d hoodwinked the law to spend our nights in the arms of Mother Nature. We? We were four, from three different continents: Ignacio, Chilean; Travis, American and Pierrette and I, French. This photo was born from the marriage of peace, friendship and tranquility. It became a symbol for me, I am you and you are me; I am your reflection and you are mine. A link to the understanding of each other and our necessity for friendship, happiness and the need to be in a healthy environment. This picture, ‘I am You and You are Me,’ was born of this atmosphere.
FOLLOWING EVENTS IN THE WORLD ON 13 NOVEMBER 2015
I had this need to express myself on a subject dear to my heart and about which I’d read too little that soothed me and far too much rubbish. So here is my humble contribution, coming from a heart that had opened following reading an excerpt of the satirical speech of Charlie Chaplin, as the dictator in the film
The Great Dictator :
” 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 man – 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 don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is 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….
The 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 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.
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 fulfil that promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil 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!”
Charlie Chaplin, 1940
It is everyone’s responsibility to commit to a better world. It is our responsibility to balance ourselves within ourselves when we are isolated from the love and compassion of our brothers and sisters of the world. No matter the color of our skin or our beliefs, the blood that flows through our heart is the same bright red for all of us. We are all human, we are all afraid of death. We are all looking for peace, happiness and well-being, and yearn to escape suffering. If we are not careful, we risk getting drunk on the quest for more power and more things, and distancing ourselves from the pursuit of personal well-being and collective desire for the greater good, the essence of man. It is our human duty to take care of this fragile balance of power and desire, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, good and bad, wisdom and folly, security and freedom. There is no ‘Manual of Life.’ It is our responsibility to interrogate ourselves and be guided in the right direction, that of the human heart; of honesty, justice and sharing; of simplicity, love and compassion.
We are sometimes lost, lonely, uncomprehending. It is for this reason that man needs his fellow man; we balance each other, we hold each other’s hand, we help each other. When one exploits the weakness of man, he himself is broken, turned into a monster. It is our responsibility to denounce those who commit wrongs, abuse, violate the Earth and Man for their selfish and morbid thirst for greed and power.
It is our duty to refute bad policies and those who implement them; to disprove they who act only for self-profit and the benefit of the more powerful, rather than for the good of all. Giving credit to policies that favor the path of war is a profound mistake. Confronting the enemy and meeting it head on, rather than be helplessly caught in its folly, is to play a part in the game and endorsing its importance. Returning to war is only fueling hatred, giving it more power and anchoring it deeper into the diseased heart. Our ego takes us on the path of retaliation, but the world is filled with examples to demonstrate this route has never cured the ills of mankind.
Yes, we must act; of course we cannot remain complacent.
To perpetuate the mistakes of our elders is to deny evolution and to deny a better future. Let’s not go to war, play the game of industry, finance, power, greed. Let’s oppose those who rub their hands
with the prospect of huge profits, power and perverse domination of war, and the horror on which it capitalises.
We must object! Let us not be complicit, we citizens of the world! Condemn this horror, disapprove and examine our confidence in politics, examine international institutions. We must denounce the dogma of the state, the greed of puppets who have become slaves of the 1%, which has released the monsters of this world. We must revoke our trust and demand they respond with honor and transparency in a new way of thinking in which the human condition is the real focus of development for all.
We have the choice whether to believe in the versions of history that are presented to us conveniently, which serve to justify the organisations of evil.
Expedient and simplistic rationale fed to us by the media, a gangrenous sphere infested with corporate systems by which we naively live, and to which many admit no responsibility. We have the choice to believe information touted by the global media and it serves us to understand the evil. But do not let this information feed our gullible natures, so we are again in the grip of an opportunistic system that divides us by fear.
Allow us our right to question. Allow us the freedom to disagree. Allow us our free will. Because after all, how is it possible that free and democratic countries are still feeding the horror by selling weapons designed to dominate and take men’s lives?
Our conscience is our weapon, our love is our ammunition, our compassion is our bullet proof vest.
Translated from the french by Jennifer Kuperman