What Our Generation Needs To Hear

Courtney Costain

“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….”

These are the words of the most recognizable silent film actor, Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin was an actor who only performed in silent films. He broke his silence in “The Great Dictator” film in 1940.  This film was the first of which Chaplin participated in a film with dialogue. Perhaps because he wrote the script, as well as produced, directed, and starred in it himself.

Chaplin was a man against Hitler and the Nazis, and anti-Semitism. In “The Great Dictator”, Chaplin plays the role of Adenoid Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania, as well as a poor Jewish barber. The film follows the real world events of Hitler and his prejudice acts towards the Jews, homosexuals, and the impaired. Towards the end of the film the Jewish barber finds himself being mistaken for the dictator, Hynkel. He is given the opportunity to speak to the people of the two warring countries and makes every second count.

In a little over three minutes Chaplin is able to give the most moving and thought-provoking speech. Chaplin begins the speech soft and not alarmed, but by the end he is passionate with every word he speaks. He claims that humanity has sacrificed the responsibility of quality of life with greed, hate, and violence. We become machines, and we are far from it. We have the love of humanity in our hearts, but we forget it, and we can not afford to forget.

Our generation need to hear this speech and it’s painfully truthful words. Chaplin writes of how men have chosen their cleverness over kindness. These choices failed mankind, they lead to greed, hate, and violence. Bitterness in everyman’s soul, all for mistaking machinery for humanity. As we grow, develop, and evolve as the human race, we cannot afford to forget our morals. If we leave everything behind and act like this, all will be lost. We have become faster and stronger yet unkind and cynical. Like Chaplin stated, “we think too much and feel too little,” we have lost touch with the most humane parts of our souls. We have given up on ourselves as humanity, we have traded in our integrity for greed. If we do not see the impact of these decisions, we will lose our most humane characteristics, everything that makes us human will simply be lost in a pit of greed and hate, but as Chaplin said, only the unloved hate.