at the risk of seeming ridiculous…

The Right to be Unsatisfied

Posted in written thoughts by Charles on May 27, 2008

One must dive under the superficial crust of reality, of common sense, of reasoning reason, in order to touch the very bottom of the soul and awaken the timeless forces of desire: desire which makes of man a refusal of everything and a love of everything: desire, the radical negation of natural laws and of the possible, a call to miracles; desire which, by its mad cosmic energy, plunges man back into the seething breast of Nature and, at the same time, lifts him above Nature through the affirmation of his Right to be unsatisfied.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Black Orpheus

Discontentment.  Refusal.  Resistance.  Prophetism.  The world of activism swirls with these notions… and understandably so.  For we live in a problematic world.  From the structural to the psychological, every good and beautiful thing seems to come through the tattered rags of the wrong and the ugly.  Such is the nature of the world.  Simply put, it is just too damn hard to be good.

For those that even try to do good, we are all still caught in a web of exploitation and alienation.  For each small thing we buy, we can probably trace some strings that are attached to the oppression of another fellow person.  For the very areas we live in, regardless of whether we are rich or poor, we live standing on the backs of the third world who are suffering to make our lives that much more comfortable.  We, in the Western world, occupy a strange existence.  We, in the modern-day Roman Empire, have a peculiar dilemma.

I am hinting at the essence of who we are as people.  I am trying to plug into the very core of what we claim to be.  It is that very mode of being where we have the divine ability to choose.  Yes, we are the product of social forces.  Yes, we are the product of our family structures.  And yes, we are the collection of the long line of influences we have from birth till today.  However, we are also the creators of our own destiny.  How is this true?  Because as strong as we think those forces are that have molded us… those forces had its beginnings in the choices of people.  The world we live in today is the product of the choices millions of people have historically made in the past till the present.  We have shaped this world.  We make it what it is.  And as bad as it may seem, we can also change it.  Because that is our right as human beings.  It is our right to live in a better world.

The beauty of discontentment is that at its core, it is idealism.  People raise their fists because they know things can be better.  That is the poetic nature of activism.  The fist in the air is a declaration to the world that it is not everything that it could be.  And more profoundly, it is a plea to the human heart to realize that it can be good.

We as people, as human beings, must always strive relentlessly towards that which is good, true, and beautiful.

Activists, I implore you to keep raising your fists, lifting your voices, and moving your feet.  For your prophetic desire is grace unto a world that should’ve unraveled long ago if not for people like you.  Musicians, painters, writers, poets… keep creating.  For the beauty and truth you are able to show the world helps the soul envision better places that can be brought closer to reality.

It is our right to be unsatisfied.  For the good, the true, and the beautiful hinges on our discontentment to dynamically and constantly make the world into a place it should be.

*Published in Common Ground, a newsletter for UCSD’s Cross-Cultural Center.


4 Responses

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  1. eunice said, on May 27, 2008 at 19:10

    this entry has sartre all over it. hahaha 🙂 im writing an essay on sartre for hum. i like his philosophy.. very interesting 🙂 good entry chuck

  2. Scott Diehl said, on May 28, 2008 at 20:01

    I loved this Chuck. I really did.

  3. Anthony said, on June 14, 2008 at 06:57


    I want to free wild horses

    protect the very gentle, good, and brave

    and pursue godly friendships

    Your Ernest Hemingway quote inspired me. And so has this post. I certainly will not stop writing, not till I die.

  4. rhb said, on July 1, 2008 at 05:05

    Hmmm . . ., as Biff Rose once opined, “You eat what you are”. Strange how clicking powerful thoughts into the blogosphere is now seen as action. No street marches, clubs to the heads, water hoses full blasting your idealism, just click, click, click.

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