My deepest apologies for the tardiness of this post (and that it followed a tardy post from last week... eek! A bad habit seems to be forming!)
Very true. I was surprised how many of my favourite authors, poets and respected politicians I had flagged in the book of quotations and how many new names I found myself repeatedly flagging. With every new name, a new curiosity was sparked and I was determined to read more about or by this person. Quotations are fantastic for that. When I came across this quote by Churchill, it put everything in perspective for me. This perspective was then fully expressed by the next quote I came across:
Anyway, this week’s post is actually one that I have been thinking about for a while and will be the first in a series; though the series may be non-consecutive. Now that the first draft of My Mother’s Daughters is complete and back in hibernation for a bit (so I can look at it with fresh eyes after some time apart), I have been thinking about my next project: Eve of Destruction. I have mentioned this show in previous posts; it will be a musical using already written songs (along the lines of Mama Mia!, Rock of Ages, and We Will Rock You) addressing the manipulation by the media of public opinion and how it can be used by governments and big business as a propaganda machine (do I hear echoes of Orwell?? Hello, is this 1984 calling? Yes!). It also deals largely with war and what leads a country to go to war and how the media plays a role in influencing the population to support these wars (*cough, cough* Iraq?). I’ve been finding that much of my writing is leaning towards varying perspectives on war, violence and government; many ideas are varieties of dystopian fantasy fiction, but I’m finding with all of these, a huge influence is from quotes that I read.
A while ago, I picked up a copy of the book 1001 Smartest Things Ever Said edited by Steven D. Price. This is where my plunder comes from this week. I’ve highlighted many of my favourites and starred ones that have particular relevance to Eve of Destruction. Those will be the main quotes I’m focusing on in this part of my plunder.
It starts with Sir Winston Churchill:
“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books or quotations. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.”
“I quote others only in order to better express myself.” – Michel de Montaigne
How apt for this situation!
So, here are the quotes that I’m using to better express some of my ideas in Eve of Destruction.
Ironically, I’ve found that many of the quotes that I’ve stolen for the inspiration for this piece come from former American presidents and political leaders. Not that the show is a condemnation of American views, but it is a commentary on the way it seems the population is led like sheep by a very right wing media presence. As a Canadian, much of what we see in the media is produced and manufactured in the USA and though we are a distinct nation, many of the issues that are prominent in the United States also run rampant through Canadian cities as well. But since America is a global superpower, it provides more examples of disturbing trends in the ever changing public consciousness.
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon looses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
This is the fundamental essence of the show (and personally, one of my greatest fears). After the shootings in Newtown, there was a cry for greater gun control laws and big push from the other side that gun control was not the answer, in fact we need more guns to be safe. “You can’t take away our guns!” As a Canadian, this is scary. We don’t need guns. We need to help people, we need to trust each other and look for ways of prevention. More availability of guns will only increase the risk of their use. If no one has guns, it’s hard to use them. As a member of the “Western World” or “First World”, it is becoming increasingly apparent that our privilege is becoming greater than our principles. We believe that things are necessary and our right, when they are luxuries afforded to very few people in this world. Imagine living life without your iPod, iPhone, computer, internet, cable TV, dishwasher, car, running water, etc. I’m not saying that we should give all this up, but we have been overrun by commercialism and think we are entitled to these things. How often do you donate money to a charity? Or even think twice about picking up a disposable water bottle? We can drink our tap water, but actually go out and buy it in the store; yet we don’t give a second thought to those people living without fresh water around the world. Mostly, we need to think about the legacy our generation is going to leave behind. What world will our children inherit? What is the impact that we have on our planet? We can no longer think as individuals for our actions impact the planet globally. We no longer live in a world of perceived unlimited resources, we need to be shepherds and care for the planet we have been given and all the beings upon it. This is not to say that we should all throw away everything we possess and donate all our money to the poor, nor am I exempting myself from being a part of this culture of privilege, I am saying that we need to start paying attention to what is really necessary in our lives and what we can do to raise the quality of life for everyone on this planet. Which brings me to FDR...
“The future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedom for every person to worship God in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom of want – which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants – everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbour – anywhere in the world.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I was actually surprised when I read that this was from FDR; not because I don’t think FDR was an amazing president that did a lot of really difficult and wonderful things, but just the fact that I feel that a lot of North American ideas have shifted away from these goals, especially in America. (I would like to qualify that I am not American, but being a neighbour that is greatly influenced by and inundated with their culture, I feel I have a fairly clear idea of the feelings that are flowing through the country.) Part of Eve of Destruction is about bringing that global perspective back to a country that seems to have turned inward with their perspective. We can only ever really have peace and freedom at home, when there is peace and freedom in the rest of the world. We cannot live under the illusion that we are safe when there is still fear and destruction in the rest of the world. FDR had it right. What also strikes a chord with me, which is something that Eve of Destruction touches on, is “freedom for every person to worship God in his own way”. We have built a world of Us and Them. The concept that we can all live in harmony seems to be lost. As a Canadian, I feel like we have managed a tenuous balance and are working to improve it, but are still far from achieving this freedom unconditionally. Again, as I’ve stated in other posts, I feel one of my greatest tasks as a writer is to promote discussion. To add a voice to issues and bring to light feelings that are lying dormant. I know many will say: but people have been discussing this for years, look FDR said it way back! I know, but if every generation doesn’t add new voices to chorus, the discussion will die out and the goal will not be achieved. Until we see the day that these freedoms have been realized anywhere and everywhere in the world, new voices are needed to make the statement heard.
My last quote for this part of the series (I flagged 63 for this post in particular from the ... number I starred and have only used 5) shook me to the core when I read it and echoed the final moments I have written for Eve of Destruction perfectly.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein
We spend so much time, money and energy developing new ways to kill each other instead of trying to help each other that eventually we will be the masters of our own destruction.
Books referenced in this post (look for them at your local bookstore):