Translating a World on the Edge

Posted: June 1, 2013 in World On The Edge

June 1, 2013

Both George and I love our DVD of the PBS Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the musical, Les Miserables, and have watched it many times. The very long novel it is based on was written by French novelist, playwright and poet, Victor Hugo. Last night, we watched the movie version on Netflix. I thought it was wonderful. Unfortunately, its themes are still relevant today, just as they were in France (and in America) in 1862 when Hugo wrote the book. 

Throughout the ages, human history has been saturated with the desire to dominate and subjugate one’s neighbors .Whatever the reason for the conflict –territorial, economic, political, or religious—nations,  races, and individuals have resorted to violence and warfare to resolve disputes, rather than compromise. Whether the reasons are just or unjust, the conflict drastically changes our world, but most specifically it changes the lives of the individual human beings involved.

My cousin, Father Arnold J. Benedetto, S.J., who was the head of the Jesuit House of Studies at Spring Hill College when I was there, states in his book,“The Philosophy of God,” that there is no such thing as the ‘sum of human suffering’ because no one ever suffers it.

Basically, we experience hardships alone, and in our own way, because suffering happens individually and specifically to one human heart at the time. We see footage of the Oklahoma tornadoes,  the effects of hurricanes, the wars in the Middle East, cruelty, addictions, and plain disregard for others. All this boggles the mind, but the misery is translated on television by individuals speaking of its effect on them personally. And then some, out of their unique experience, try to effect change.

                                    This is from the Preface of Hugo’s Lest Miserables:“So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the

face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine,

with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty,

the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—

are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words,

and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth,

books like this cannot be useless.”

And yet, we the people haven’t learned.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it.

                                                     I’d love to hear from you!

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