I inadvertently stumbled on to this the other day while listening to Hans Zimmer on YouTube. The more I looked into this speech, the more fascinated I became with the film and the circumstances around it, take this from IMDB,
Gallup polls revealed that 96% of Americans opposed U.S. involvement in the war in Europe, and threatening letters from Nazi sympathizers poured into the studio. At one point, he even asked a friend with the Longshoreman’s Union in New York if they could have some union members present at the opening, to prevent a pro-Nazi demonstration.
In the 1940 movie, The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin gives the following climatic speech, now mixed with a little Hanz Zimmer (from every awesome soundtrack ever).
Words worth listening to, timeless & poignant.
If it rains on the rich and the poor,
if the sun shines on the hard worker and those who snore
if cancer catches the liar and corrupts the healer
then why do I look on my wealth as a sign of approval
each dollar a gold star on my good-life tick chart
justifying behaviour because I am blessed
when maybe I’m blessed to take care of those I call Less
behind a tranquil monastery is a boundary of forestry hiding a barbed-wire monstrosity
a church safe cursed by a razor-wire crown of thorns
we must protect our truth, sanctified and clean
like we set the standard for what clean is
hide your light under a bushel
unless it’s sanitized and superficial
Supermarket-church snap-frozen-reheated greetings, cookie-cutter-christians rehearsed prayers and scripted meetings
Yahweh’s speechless we’ve hijacked his voice and branded it like sneakers,spread the brand globally sweatshop-manufactured-ministry, unethical in our political standing on others to maintain our status quo
checkered shirts, buzz words, clap for yourself ignore the helpless, it’s you who commands and god who follows, enslaved by his own words pages of grace turned into spiritual laws and promises
a world void of colour and complexity, 40-days of formulaic-faith-paint-by-numbers-christianity
we’ve robbed the God of creation his creativity, denied his mystery, trapped him in a black and white box of simplicity
is it any wonder he doesn’t flow through me…
when kingdom looks so different from this brand of culturanity
I’ve been meaning to share this for a while.
Last night we had a new roommate arrive, he promptly left & spent all night in a strip club before returning in the morning. He’s a mid 50’s American who has to travel for business, he tells his wife he stays in Hotels & will call her from one the 1st night & then spends the rest of the time staying at hostels. Why hostels you ask? I didn’t but he’d enlighten me anyway, the extra money is for strippers & chasing tail (I opted for a different choice of words), oh & hostels are full of lots of young drunk *****
… Ladies & Gentlemen I present to you the nomination for the trips most seediest individual.
I’ve been asked a bit lately about the safety of hanging out & talking to houseless people, 90% of the time I’ve felt safe. There was one instance I didn’t & I left & that wasn’t due to houseless people but a group of others in that area.
What’s felt more unsafe to me is the random dude selling coke, or sitting at a bar having dinner & the business woman whose next to you slips you her hotel key-card… that’s felt more unsafe than hanging-out with people without houses.
Anyway it’s my last day & I’ve found out about two places I should get to, one is just out of Chinatown, the other is a “tent city” in Waianae. Waianae proves to be too far away for me as I don’t have the coin for a cab ($80-100 each way) or car hire, or the time to bus… finding out about this place too late & not being able to make it, would prove to be my greatest disappointment of my time in Hawaii.
So I manage a quick visit to Chinatown & some of the surrounding areas. It’s strange to see empty basketball courts & abandoned playgrounds… & streets lined with tents.
I say goodbye to the “Houseless crew”, the group closest to me, where it all started I guess. A couple are drunk & don’t know who I am. Mark, who has never said much to me, thanks me & gives me a Hawaii bracelet (I’m not “convinced” it was purchased) I’ll wear it all the same.
…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped
and these guys certainly live in the shadows. Mark was assaulted last night and his face is cut, bruised & swollen, he was asleep when it started, he had no possessions, money, or drugs…
he had no one.
We can’t blame our government for not looking after those in the ‘shadows’. When we can walk by without making eye contact, offering a hello or a smile…
Is life really too busy to take 2 seconds to acknowledge someone else’s humanity?
Someone once said,
Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest
We have a way to go.
Hawaii Looking Back: Hawaii didn’t workout as planed…
but it couldn’t have worked out better. Sure I spent a whole lot less time on the beach & in the water than I would have liked but I got to meet some amazing people, I’ve met some from different walks of life, who I could live a million lifetimes & not rub shoulders with. My life is richer for it.
I wish I could have had another day here & made it to Waianae.
It’s been cool to see God at work, it’s been cool to see the difference a little love & kindness can make in someones life. Walking back to the Hostel one last time, I run into a guy I’d spent a bit of time with, he proudly tells me he’s been sober for a day.
It’s the first time in 15yrs.
We never had conversations about it…we barely had conversations, I just sat & listened.
Of all the things we have to give others, I think ‘time’ is the hardest to give.
I’m off to the airport, see you in San Francisco.
I’ve been in Hawaii for 5 or 6 days now, part of that time has been for vacation & travel, part has been to hangout with & do some film/photo/doco work around the homeless/houseless.
There are two reasons for this,
1) I hope to be able to put something together to raise a little awareness about the houseless & how we treat/interact with them,
and 2) I want to do it in such a way that it’s accessible for anyone to do. I’m by no means a talented editor, creative, film maker etc… I’m shooting everything on a GoPro. I guess I hope to provoke one or two others to ask,
what is it in your world that doesn’t sit right with you, what can you do about it, how can you engage with it & advocate for change
This was a beautiful moment I witnessed last night.
Last night after the sunset on the beach I spend some time hanging out with some houseless people. I take a few pics & do a little film work. I sit with one guy for a couple of hours & he just talks, he cries, he laughs, he shares his story, from the mundane to the comical & tragic.
I listen. I’m not filming, it stops being about what I need.
Unlike some of the other ‘houseless’ he doesn’t have a group he hangs with, the only time people stop to talk is to see if he can hook them up with weed.
I don’t know how to describe it other than it seemed to be a healing moment for him, he asks for me to pray for him, I’ll make a point of seeing him before I leave.
On the way back I stop by this really flash mall full of Prada, Armani etc… it’s a stark contrast to what I’ve seen in the last couple of hours, I decide to ask a couple of questions,
“Hey I’ve a couple of questions about Hawaii, can you answer for me”, yes. “How long have you been in Hawaii?”, insert answer. “Whats the deal with all the homeless people around?”.
“sorry sir I can’t answer that”. “ummm….”. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave”.
One lady called security. I start leaving, I’m on the 3rd story & it’s a little tricky to get out. Eventually I get asked to hand my camera over. I refuse, there is no way that’s happening. You’re not allowed to film or take photos in the mall without permission, I point out the dozen or around us that are filming right now.
It’s clear they don’t want a confrontation because of either my size or the scene it would create. I get asked to accompany them to their office, yep that’s not going to happen either. They inform me they can call the police & have me charged, I’m sceptically but a little worried that this might jeopardize the rest of the trip (and judging by a few incidents I’ve witnessed, I have no confidence in the police). We reach a compromise were I agree to delete some footage off the camera under their supervision, I do so (in hindsight, something I would regret).
One of the guys tries to snatch it off me quickly, the GoPro is attached by a cord to my wrist, dick move, “I’m going, try & stop me”. We’re calling the cops…
Once I get out and around the corner I’m sure I’m shaking. I head back to the hostel & knock back a few local beers with people from around the world, there’s a really good group in tonight, it’s a shame I’m leaving tomorrow.
High: the “random” timing in witnessing a beautiful moment of kindness. The comradery of travelers.
I’m about to hop on a plane with a half-crazed plan, a bunch of tickets, a GoPro, $100 in my pocket & a whole bunch of the unknown.
I’ll be gone 2 months & will visit half a dozen countries. Some places I’ll definitely be at, some I’m hoping to get to, some I have no idea how I’m getting there, where I’m staying or how I’ll pay for it…
this will be a grand adventure of epic proportions or a cautionary tale.
Here’s a list of places I’m going to be (bracketed are places I’m hoping to get to), in rough sequential order. I’m already catching up with a couple of readers for coffee, so hit me up if I’m in your area firstname.lastname@example.org
A little over a year ago I decided I wanted to visit Palestine for 4 weeks over my summer holidays (Christmas in NZ), I guess that’s what set the wheels in motion. Turns out though, that flying to Tel Aviv from my little island country is ridiculously expensive.
So I started looking at alternative ways of getting there, and by alternative I mean Every possible combination of dates & places… long story short, I’m flying to a bunch of places for a little more than the original cost, albeit on some airlines that don’t appear to even have logos – there’s a good chance I end up in the back of a single prop full of crates of chickens.
Oh & this trip has ballooned from 4 weeks to 2 months.
So what do I plan on doing?
Well some of the trip I’ll be a traveler, some a tourist (yes, there is a difference), some a photographer, artist, filmmaker (more on that to come).
I’ll be writing this blog when I can, planes, airports & buses.
I’m chasing dreams & sunsets, welcome to the journey.
See you in Hawaii