I have long planned to write a post on how there can be no moral integrity without freedom. I was procrastinating: I was forever waiting for the “proper” occasion and the “proper” words. And in the aftermath of Easter, I end up sharing a silly and naïve story – which happens to provide just the perfect example for what I have to say.
I thought I’d stand up for the liberty to keep pet rabbits in our homes – and, on a more serious note, I plan to criticize prohibitions in general. There were plenty of advertisements – very rightfully – discouraging the traffic of rabbits, first sold as Easter presents for kids, and then thrown out, set loose, or killed when the kids no longer find enjoyment in them. Yet I have a point or two to add to that argument.
Every Easter, this text returns to haunt me. Written by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy in 1917, it’s an anthem of moral individualism: a reminder that liberty and moral integrity are gifted to the individual – and that the collective can only corrupt them.
Although I’ve already posted this piece last Easter, I thought it had a place on this blog, too. The translation from Hungarian is mine, although I took hints from another, heavily abridged version.
For those of you who read Hungarian, here is the original: http://www.szepi.hu/irodalom/kedvenc/kt_030.html
It’s only fitting that I post this on Good Friday – but this is my Easter greeting, too: let us all have a happy time, but not an oblivious one.
by Frigyes Karinthy
On the third day, at dusk, he stepped out of the tomb, and quietly began to walk down the road. Black smoke was rising from the ruins, and surrounded him. At the bottom of a dry ditch, he found the first of those who, in front of Pilate’s house, had shouted the name of Barabbas. The wretched man was wailing at the red fumes with a blackened tongue.