Meet This Speech:

Meet John Doe is a good film released in 1941, starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. I watched ten minutes of it recently and was happy that ten minutes included the speech I’ve pasted below.   The speech this ‘John Doe’ gives to the amazement of a country, struck me hard and I thought we should all read it and weigh in.  Here it is:

THE SPEECH

John Doe:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am the man you all know as John Doe. I took that name because it seems to describe — because it seems to describe the average man, and that’s me — and that’s me.

Well, it was me — before I said I was gonna jump off the City Hall roof at midnight on Christmas Eve. Now, I guess I’m not average any more. Now, I’m getting all sorts of attention, from big shots, too — the mayor and governor, for instance. They don’t like those articles I’ve been writing.

 “Well, people like the Governor — people like the Governor — and that fella there can — can stop worrying. I’m not gonna talk about them. I’m gonna talk about us, the average guys, the John Does.

If anybody should ask you what the average John Doe is like, you couldn’t tell him because he’s a million and one things. He’s Mr. Big and Mr. Small. He’s simple and he’s wise. He’s inherently honest, but he’s got a streak of larceny in his heart. He seldom walks up to a public telephone without shoving his finger into the slot to see if somebody left a nickel there.

He’s the man the ads are written for. He’s the fella everybody sells things to. He’s Joe Doakes, the world’s greatest stooge and the world’s greatest strength.

Yes, sir — Yes, sir, we’re a great family, the John Does. We are the meek who are — who are supposed to inherit the earth. You’ll find us everywhere. We raise the crops; we dig the mines, work the factories, keep the books, fly the planes and drive the busses. And when a cop yells: “Stand back there, you!” He means us, the John Does!

We have existed since time began. We built the pyramids. We saw Christ crucified, pulled the oars for Roman emperors, sailed the boats for Columbus, retreated from Moscow with Napoleon and froze with Washington at Valley Forge.

Yes, sir. We’ve been in there dodging left hooks since before history began to walk. In our struggle for freedom we’ve hit the canvas many a time, but we always bounced back! Because we’re the people — and we’re tough.

They’ve started a lot of talk about free people going soft — that we can’t take it. That’s a lot of hooeyl A free people can beat the world at anything, from war to tiddle-de-winks, if we all pull in the same direction.

   I know a lot of you are saying “What can I do? I’m just a little punk. I don’t count.” Well, you’re dead wrong! The little punks have always counted because in the long run the character of a country is the sum total of the character of its little punks.

But, we’ve all got to get in there and pitch. We can’t win the old ballgame unless we have teamwork. And that’s where every John Doe comes in. It’s up to him to get together with his teammates. And your teammate, my friend, is the guy next door to you. Your neighbor — he’s a terribly important guy that guy next door. You’re gonna need him and he’s gonna need you, so look him up. If he’s sick, call on him. If he’s hungry, feed him. If he’s out of a job, find him one.

To most of you, your neighbor is a stranger, a guy with a barkin’ dog and high fence around him. Now, you can’t be a stranger to any guy that’s on your own team. So teach down the fence that separates you. Tear down the fence and you’ll tear down a lot of hates and prejudices. Tear down all the fences in the country and you’ll really have teamwork.

I know a lot of you are saying to yourselves, “He’s askin’ for a miracle to happen. He’s expectin’ people to change all of a sudden. Well, you’re wrong. It’s no miracle. It’s no miracle because I see it happen once every year. And and so do you — at Christmas time. There’s somethin’ swell about the spirit of Christmas, to see what it does to people, all kinds of people.

Now, why can’t that spirit, that same, warm Christmas spirit last the whole year around? Gosh, if it ever did, if each and every John Doe would make that spirit last 365 days out of the year, we’d develop such strength, we’d create such a tidal wave of good will that no human force could stand against it. Yes sir, my friends, the meek can only inherit the earth when the John Doe’s start lovin’ their neighbors.

You better start right now. Don’t wait till the game is called on account of darkness.

Wake up, John Doe. You’re the hope of the world.”

Z:  Thoughts?    Applies to today?  Or would anybody talk like that today?  What do you think?

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32 Responses to Meet This Speech:

  1. That was quite the populist movie as I recall.
    Some rich media savvy guy was trying to manipulate the John Doe movement for political purposes, even demonstrating his motorcycle corp (very fascist imagery) to gain either the governorship or presidency or both, I can’t recall.
    So, what rich guy is currently trying to manipulate the populist vote to his advantage?
    Looking out for the “little guy”.

    Like

  2. geeez2014 says:

    I think this speech is worth reading…. and that until the ‘little guy,’ as you put it, wakes up, perhaps from a speech like this (which took on a very positive, encouraging life of its own beyond the way you looked at it), we’re going nowhere.

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  3. Silverfiddle says:

    Ed: What rich politician, movement or corporation is not trying to manipulate us to their advantage?

    I had never heard of this movie or this speech before, and I don’t know what the ultimate purpose of it was, but taking it on its face, as Z has presented it to us, I believe it is a timeless message of hope that is as applicable today as it was when it first came out.

    Humankind has always been infested with rats who will pervert a good message and use human nature and goodwill as a lever to weasel and chisel their way to fame or riches, but that does not besmirch the message itself.

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  4. I’m sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I love the speech.
    I’m just remembering the context of the movie.
    The rich guy was trying to ride to power on the earnestness of John Doe,
    John Doe caught on and exposed the rich guy as I recall.
    Similar vein as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

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  5. As I reread Z’s post, I see that she only saw ten minutes including this speech, and SF has not seen it at all, which is why you don’t relate to my take on it.
    The movie really is an attempt to expose that the people are being manipulated with false facades to support politicians with hidden agendas.
    John Doe (Gary Cooper) is being used to further that agenda.
    John Doe catches on and rebels with that speech.

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  6. FB says:

    That speech can be analyzed and interpreted in so many different ways. A communist could say this. A fascist could say this. Someone striving for moral integrity of a country could say this. I personally take that kind of speech with extreme caution.

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  7. Mal says:

    I’m sure I must’ve seen this movie at that time, but don’t remember for sure. The way the speech was written, it sounds more like a Jimmy Stewart kind of role rather than Gary Cooper, but both were similar type actors. Keep in mind this was the same year Pearl Harbor was bombed and WW ll started. The old days. My time.

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  8. Kid says:

    It seems there are fewer and fewer people willing to accept personal responsibility and hard work as a path to happiness and reward. They’re going the other way now. Young and old alike are voting for socialism and reduction of personal liberties. Shred that bill of Rights I say !

    When they feel the pain of poor decision making it will be too late. Many decided it was too late when obama was re-elected and they may have been right.

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  9. FB says:

    Exactly, Kid. A friend of mine is an entrepreneur but huge student loans b/c he doesn’t seem to mind splurging and went back to school with high tuitions in hid mid life without much money. And now he’s a huge fan of Bernie Sanders b/c he thinks he could bail him out.

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  10. bocopro says:

    Haven’t seen that movie in decades. Kinda sorta remember it . . . mostly as exemplary of a time when producers and directors didn’t go for the most spectacular explosion, the fastest hi-speed chase, the biggest body count, the bloodiest dismemberment scenes, the best imitation of a thermonuclear detonation by a guitar band, the closest facsimile to the central act of reproduction in a dance scene, and the unnecessariest frontal nudity.

    That, along with Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, It’s A Wonderful Life, and several others, dealt with the tricky business of being human by exploring human INTERaction rather than special-effects graphic action. Writers and directors were interested in how people got along with each other, not necessarily how they got even with each other.

    They explored hokey stuff, such as family, patriotism, hope, faith, honor, dignity, and they did it without gore, without gotcha moments, without spectacle. Quite Shakespearean, a lot of them . . . choosing to report or announce a battle or a murder that occurred off-stage and then have the main characters discuss the motivations for and reactions to that event.

    As I recall, this one began by exposing hokum and wound up exploring hope. I think I liked ’em better when the principals kept their clothes on and behaved like sane, sensible people faced with new experiences and situations that we could all share vicariously and learn somethin from.

    ‘Course I’m an old boy from the Midwest, so what do I know. I don’t even own a cell fone.

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  11. Kid says:

    FB, Yes, the lure of easy money has a very strong appeal.

    Many kids today are in for a real shock when they have to start dealing with real life. Then it will be Hey, where’d all those rich people go? heh.

    Like

  12. FB says:

    Yup. You can even extrapolate to extreme cases. Bismark promised the welfare state, it tanked and then many thought Hitler would bail them out in a way.

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  13. geeez2014 says:

    Ed, I have seen the whole movie probably ten times; saw only ten minutes the other day.
    I see all that you suggest in the film and good does overcome the evil.

    SF>..exactly right. It is a timely message of hope.

    FB…I heard a young man on TV the other night saying he’s a Republican but will vote for Bernie because he’s over his head in college loans. I couldn’t believe my ears.
    You need to see the film.

    Kid, you’re right….they’ll be FURIOUS when their rich daddy can’t buy their jeans and marijuana because he’s being taxed to death!

    Bocopro…there’s hardly a movie from the Forties I don’t like…and I’ve seen them all (i mean ‘all’)probably at least five times. Great stuff.

    Like

  14. Mall is right. I often remember Jimmy Stewart in this movie.

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  15. Mustang says:

    So the newspaper reporter makes up a story about a homeless man and the publisher seizes on the story as a means of increasing circulation. We have even seen this play out in real life: journalists making up stories about poor minorities and one even ended up with a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

    I have to agree with FB and Kid –so many possibilities and so little time. The speech is exactly what I might expect from Bernie Sanders and reminiscent of Hillary’s “It takes a village” compost. Look … everyone has hard times. The question is, do we succumb to bad times, or do we pick ourselves up and get on with life whenever confronted by challenges? I remember something my grandfather used to tell us: “I thought I was in bad shape because I had no shoes, but then I met a man who had no feet.”

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  16. I take issue with the socialism take on the speech.
    Reading it again, I’m reminded of my I’m Your Neighbor ad.
    He’s not calling for the government to intercede, he’s calling on us.

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  17. Kid says:

    Ed, If I read you right, then reply is that There are not enough of “us” and there are fewer and fewer each day. For a variety of reasons, the biggest one in my mind being that the current economic environment is very challenging for college grads who want high paying jobs (while 40% of the working age people are unemployed) are struggling with the want to work attitude combined with the no work available reality. Not the work they’re looking for anyway. That makes it very easy for them to start looking to the dark side (socialism)

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  18. geeez2014 says:

    I’m really quite amazed that some of us can read that speech about loving your neighbor, not counting Americans down for the count, and working together to make things better….acting in the Christmas spirit every day instead of 1 day of the year and get anything negative from it.
    Are we that sensitive to THE PEOPLE working together that it suddenly sounds like SOCIALISM? Can we look at the color red without thinking communism?

    “Tear down the fences”…get rid of prejudices……that’s bad?

    Calling on us is every good candidate for office should do; leave the gov’t out of it; let the people care more about each other, change hearts, be strong. Work hard to improve our country.

    That’s what I get from it, and that’s what the people he was speaking to in the film got from it and did.

    Maybe we ARE too far gone to believe in ourselves and working together without depending on government…….yes, maybe we are.

    Like

  19. Kid says:

    Z, I think the speech was great. Very Conservative and had nothing to do with socialism. I just decided to comment that “Yes, this is the way it is supposed to be, It is the way it used to be in the majority reality.” It just isn’t anymore. Read: So how do instill these values into the younger folks today, plus the older ones who have gravitated to the dark side. I’ve been at it 20 years and I don’t believe it is possible with words and concepts. These people are going to have to feel the pain of bad decision making plain and simple. Yeehaw!

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  20. geeez2014 says:

    Kid, that’s why I said at the end of my comment just above yours “maybe we ARE too far gone to believe…”
    I know what you mean; if anybody blogs on this topic a lot, it’s me. Values are gone….
    But the reaction from some really did stun me. If anything, I’d hoped to inspire and remind that this was America and maybe we could talk about what could bring her back?

    Like

  21. Kid says:

    Z, What could bring it back. MASSIVE DEPORTATION of anyone who is not patriotic to America.
    That includes a very diverse set of groups, so see I’m not racist, gender biased, religious biased. No bias at all. If someone thinks America is the problem, then I’m up for deporting them to the moslem, socialist, communist, fascist, fill in the blank country of their choice. Heck, the EU is taking in Savages, Let’s send them all there then breathe deep the lovely health giving nectar of air so cleansed by their absense. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Can you feel it? Well, I can imagine what my dreams are going to be like tonight….

    Like

  22. Kid for president!

    Like

  23. geeez2014 says:

    I just wish we had a realistic way to change our country back…mass deportation isn’t in the cards.

    BY THE WAY: I put on the Dem Debate earlier and Bernie Sanders said the Wall St situation of 2008 was bad on everybody but, particularly, the Black segment..
    How? Blacks were more heavily invested in the stock market??

    Like

  24. Kid says:

    Ed – Heh.

    Z, realistic solutions are off the table. 😉 Sorry.

    Blacks hurt by the ‘financial risis’?? I can’t imagine how ! (Well, this is of course campaign strategy to see who can suck up more blacks – hilrod or sanders.)

    Like

  25. geeez2014 says:

    Kid, exactly! How would Blacks be more hurt by the crisis? yes, it’s about sucking up to more Blacks.

    Realistic solutions are the only way, sadly……..we can ‘pie in the sky’ for years and it’ll still just be pie.

    Like

  26. Kid says:

    Ms Z, I’d love to take you out for some pie and coffee. But that’s pie in the sky too I guess 🙂

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  27. geeez2014 says:

    I think so…but nice thought!! 🙂
    I LOVE PIE!!
    What’s your fave?

    Like

  28. geeez2014 says:

    Only Bernie Sanders could hear about the video of our sailor in Iran, one of the hostages, CRYING, and the reenactment of that ambush by the Iranians, showing Iranian men posing as our sailors, on their knees with guns to their heads today in Iran in a parade, and still suggest tonight that we should meet with our enemies..”it’s easy to meet with friends, hard to meet with enemies”

    I’m loving this debate…I never realized what a hopeless HIPPIE this dope is.
    I was laughing at him as Hillary was making a point and he kept putting his finger up to the two questioners as if there’s anybody ELSE on stage who might get a chance to speak before HE DID? Like the large number of Republicans have to raise a finger so the panel knows that they’ve got something to add, but when there are TWO CANDIDATES and he keeps trying to get the attention of the panel? WHAT?

    Like

  29. Kid says:

    I like Egg Custard and Cherry. and Lemon. And coconut cream. But I haven’t had pie in years. I just don’t do desert. I would make an exception in your case tho.

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  30. Alec says:

    A day late and dollar short (at least when it comes to Z’s blog. (sorry!)

    Kid, your comment at February 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm
    is on point and prescient. As is FB’s at February 11, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Z, the speech appeals to us (your readers) in part because we are listening to it through the filter of an American society which upheld the social aspects of a 10 commandments/Christian worldview. That society is long gone. There is NO indication that it will ever come back to America. The sooner we come to grips with that, the sooner we’ll throw ourselves back on the mercy of God, which has only been our only hope.

    Young Christians have never experienced a world which pays lip service to the morality implicit in the 10 commandments or the Christian worldview. How could they? The vast majority neither know the Bible nor read it. They go to pagan schools and are taught by people who at best see the Bible as a book of fairy tales.

    “Give me the child until he is
    seven and I care not who has him thereafter.”
    -Ignatius of Loyola (alleged)

    Like

  31. geeez2014 says:

    Alec, I’ll never give up on our country and never stop praying.
    Yesterday, we thirty Leaders were asked after some time of open prayer to say Psalm 23…I saw that most of us knew it…Also, another Leader who visits old age homes said the most requested song by the elderly is What a Friend we Have in Jesus….that even if they can’t talk anymore, their lips move as she and others sing it to them….I mentioned that “This is something our children will never have….” and Baysider added that “there is no water in their well” ,..from which to pull God’s strength.

    This speech doesn’t appeal to me or my readers because we don’t understand your point; it appeals to us because we know that prayer and goodness could bring us back to Him and to a better country.

    Like

  32. Alec says:

    Z, I know you and your readers understand. And yes, God can bring us back to him and to a better country.

    Like

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