Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Too Late to Make New Enemies (Voltaire)

It's Too Late to Make New Enemies.

La Mer - Charles Trenet

Voltaire once said :

All sects are different, because they come from men;
Morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.
If God didn’t exist, we’d need to invent him.

If Voltaire woke up today, I believe he’d fit right into our contemporary society.

Voltaire is a name we know him by but his birth name was Francois Marie Arouet.
His life, was anything but boring.

He was an enlightened satirist, always learning, promoting skepticism, criticizing everything:
Aristocracy, religion, bigotry, tyranny, democracy, the Bible, the
Roman Catholic church, Islam. etc..

He tried to make people think rather than accept things thrown at them and the
establishment didn’t like it and burnt his books but the more they burnt,
the more people wanted to read him and many did and still do today.

He died at a ripe old age of 84, in May 1778 , leaving behind over
2000 books and 14,ooo letters.
His humanist stance, offended many and landed him in jail and exile many
times but they were all used as learning experiences.

His 15 year liason with Mme Chatelet, a scientist and mathematician,
gave him an opportunity to experiment with Isaac Newton’s ideas,
study Confucious, and get into areas of philosophy and metaphysics and
the idea of separation of Church and State etc…

His 3 year exile to England taught him about Constitutional Monarchy,
Civil and Social Freedoms and Free Trade.

France had an Absolute Monarchy then and Voltaire believed in enlightened
despotism because he said you needed educated leaders to make change.

Voltaire was very special and two things he did were truly exceptional.

One was his objection to the torture and death of Calas, a man accused of killing
his own son because they said he didn’t want him to become Roman Catholic.
Calas lost all his assets and his children were sent to a monastery. Voltaire went out
of his way to exonerate the family because he saw it as religious persecution.

The Second thing we can admire him for is his stance for womens rights in his poem :
Maid of New Orleans ( really the story of Joan of Arc. But he never finished it.
Tchaikovsky also wrote a play on her).

After all Joan did for France, France betrayed her.

Joan fell in love with an English Knight who changed sides and fought for France just to be with her.
Her Dad Thibault, thought she was possessed because of all the prophetic dreams she had which
got her kings trust and thus to her leading him to his coronation.
( since she made this possible for him)

Thibault asked her if she was pure and holy and because of her liason with her love Lionel,
she could not say yes.
They mistook this as an admission to being possessed and banished her.

The English caught her. They killed Lionel and burnt her at the stake as a witch.
She became a Martyr and a Saint . Voltaire saw this as tyranny, bigotry and persecution of women.

On his death bed they asked Voltaire to renounce the devil and return to God to which he replied:

“ It’s too late to make new enemies.”

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.



Anonymous said...

Wow ..excelleny history

A Lady's Life said...

Voltaire or rather M Arouet, (he doesn't need to hide anymore)
was quite complex.
He believed in God but not in man's Dogma of religion.He hated mohamet because of the way he went about pushing his religion. The religion though, he had nothing against. Nothing has changed since Voltairs days.
I believe his belief in God was pure.No one understood that.