Charter for Compassion

Monday, December 31, 2012

Approaching the New Year, thinking about Les Misérables

I enjoyed watching  Les Misérables yesterday.  I hope you go to see it and beyond that, read or reread the book, I found both a call for transformation well worth my time.  I was particularly fascinated by the spiritual values imbedded in both works. I say spiritual, because Hugo's view of the church changed over time.1

Victor Hugo counsels us in Les Misérables that it is so easy for those of us who want a better world to get impatient, to get ahead of ourselves and find ourselves out there on the barricades with out people backing us up. Clearly, Hugo wants a revolution, he sees the oppression, the inequality, the degradation, but he wants the transformation to be thorough going, a spiritual revolution that takes place in each persons heart and soul, a revolution that helps us see, helps us be compassionate, helps us help each other.

Given the current state of our affairs, a revolution of this sort is no less a monumental task now than it was then.  So much to do, so many to be transformed especially ourselves.  And yet, Hugo took up this task. He wrote a monumental work that brings a God's eye view of his world, (one that still reflects our world when seen deeply), and within that, an encouragement for generations to stand up for humanity. It is not in taking up arms that the revolution is won, but in the small unnoticed, unrewarded, patient transforming work that we help each other with; it is not in cold calculation but in the loving heart that a new day dawns.

As we engage in our work this new year, may each one of us take up life's struggles with Victor Hugo's words in mind, “There is a determined though unseen bravery that defends itself foot by foot in the darkness against the fatal invasions of necessity and dishonesty. Noble and mysterious triumphs that no eye sees, and no fame rewards, and no flourish of triumph salutes. Life, misfortunes, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battlefields that have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious heroes.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


  1. Thanks for posting. Thanks for directing me over here. Thanks for all you do. And to this I say: Amen.

    Imagine a world where every voice is heard -- that's my mantra.

  2. Thanks for sharing these great perspectives, Todd!