American Rhetoric: Movie Speech
"Meet John Doe" (1941)
John Doe Delivers National Radio Address
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.
John Doe: 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.
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
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 tear 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 a 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.