On September 12th, 2001 many people including myself were still reeling from the events of the previous day. As a country we saw a unity and spirit of support and compassion towards our fellow-man that hadn’t been so apparent in years or maybe decades prior to that moment. The major part of our country was not in an area where we could physically help with the burden, but we cared for one another, we listened, we shared our stories, our sorrows, and our survivals. We sought to help one another.
In the short 24 hours after the attacks we often heard the words “Al-Qaeda”, “jihad”, “Osama bin Laden”, “Taliban” and others. It was difficult for me to sort through and decipher what it all meant amidst the fresh emotions of the previous day. It may have been a month, a year, or more, but at some point I realized that those words were all excuses for one simple, single, raw emotion — hate. The attacks of 9/11 were not about religion, or nationality, or even fear, as much as they were about hate. The hate felt on 9/11 was strong and we rose to the challenge. Do not forget. Do not lose your way. Remember the lives of those lost under the bitter colors of hate and face it head on with courage and dignity and do your part to make the world a better place for everyone.
I have included this inspiring speech and transcript below from Charlie Chaplin’s movie “The Great Dictator” in which he plays the part of a barber who is mistaken for Adenoid Hynkel. It is out of character for Chaplin and fictional (though aimed at Nazi Germany), but one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard.
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’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.
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 seventeenth chapter of Saint 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 you the 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, 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!!!
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality.
Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow — into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up.