Who are les miserables?

We’ve just got back from the cinema, where we watched Les Miserables. Hubby and I have seen the musical a couple of times. We showed middle son the DVD of the 25 year concert, and he was interested enough to read the book and wanted to come. Youngest decided to try it – he hadn’t even realised it was a musical, bless him!

But the movie made me think, and gave me an answer to a question I’ve been pondering lately. I’ve been reading the news and looking at the world around me and wondering if we’re actually making any progress, or are we moving backwards? With all the pressures financially, and people losing jobs, and businesses closing, and people living on benefits with no intention – or hope – of getting a job, it just seemed to me that the world is becoming less and less pleasant to live in.

Then watching Les Miserables, I was reminded that however much we complain about people receiving little punishment for crimes, at least they have a chance to turn themselves around and make a positive change, rather than being condemned for the rest of their lives for a minor crime. However much we complain about people who live on benefits, at least we know that people are no longer thrown on the scrapheap if they are unable to support themselves. As much as we know that people in some countries still live a miserable life, there are those who are aware and actively campaigning to improve their lot.

If we’ve gone too far the other way, if it’s too easy to commit crimes without punishment, or to live on benefits without bothering about trying to live independently, or to ignore those who suffer, at least the majority is aware of that fact, and not believing it is an acceptable way of life, which means there must be hope.

While on a year to year basis, and maybe even decade to decade, there can be swings back and forth, overall I guess the world is improving, has improved and will continue to improve. We look on episodes from the past as barbaric, which means that in years to come this era will also seem backward, and as long as we can see the injustice and suffering in our world we can stand up against it.

In general, we have to see what is wrong with the world in order to make any progress away from it. We have to feel the pain to appreciate the freedom from pain. We have to get upset at injustice in order to appreciate what justice is. And even in the midst of the pain, there are those willing to stand up for what they believe in, who sometimes stand on their own but sometimes are joined by more and more who are willing to suffer and to speak so that life for others might be improved. The time we need to worry is the time when we see nothing wrong, when we’re happy with the world, because that means not that we live in a perfect world, but that we have grown to accept its imperfection so well that we no longer notice it.

Yes, I did enjoy the movie, by the way!


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