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Why did you come to bother us?

In these times of the beginning of the election campaign really, my head is spinning. I feel sick. Yes, I am disgusted, in the first sense of the term: I have “a pierced heart”. From this climate in which I wake up every morning. Some newspaper headlines, for example: Jean-Luc Mélenchon: “Everyone scares everyone! », “Ms. Hidalgo scares me”, “Éric Zemmour, revealing a France that is afraid”, “Zemmour the candidate of fear”, Yannick Jadot: “There are two ways to manage fear”, “Yannick Jadot very feverish: he is afraid”, “Marine Le Pen and the discourse of fear”, “Marine Le Pen: fear is there”, Anne Hidalgo: “You don’t scare me! “Anne Hidalgo is not afraid of the polls”, “Valérie Pécresse wants fear to change sides”, “Why does Pécresse scare Macron? » (And again, I leave the Karcher in the cellar…)

So, as always when I’m uncomfortable and disoriented, I try to breathe a little higher and turn to literature. I have just reread, in Dostoyevsky’s book The Karamazov Brothers, The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor. It is a philosophical tale, a poem, a parable… a masterpiece that is difficult to reduce to a single presentation. It is a dialogue between two of the three Karamazov brothers: Aliocha, a young monk, and his eldest, Ivan, a nihilistic poet, who is going to read him the poem he wrote (the famous Legend…, so).

We are in Seville, in the XVIand century, in full Inquisition. Jesus decides to come down to earth, “to visit his children”, who recognize it: “God appears; he says nothing and just passes by. (…) Attracted by an irresistible force, the people crowd in its path and cling to its steps. » He stretches out his arms to them, blesses them, brings a little girl back to life. “At this moment passes the Cardinal Grand Inquisitor. (…) He orders the guards to seize him. (…) The people are so used to submitting, to obeying, that the crowd part to allow the guards to stop them. » The inquisitor goes to see Christ in prison, and asks him: “Why did you come to bother us? » For while Christ had proposed to men: “A freedom which, according to the grand inquisitor, frightens them”, he removed this freedom, in order to make them happy, because, he asks: “Can rebels be happy? » Later, and while Christ stares at him in silence “with his tender and penetrating gaze”, he adds : “Have you forgotten that man prefers peace and even death to the freedom to discern between good and evil? There is nothing more alluring to man than free will, but also nothing more painful. (…) There are three forces (…) : the miracle, the mystery, and the authority! (…) And man will bow before the prodigies of a magician, the spells of a witch. (…) We will prove to them that they are stupid, that they are pitiful children. »

For Ivan Karamazov, the teachings of Jesus are too subversive. Tempted three times by Satan in the desert, did he not refuse to change the stone into bread, to throw himself into the void and to kneel before the devil? These temptations of Christ in the desert are the temptations of mankind, but to resist them what it requires of moral strength is impossible for the average man. The Grand Inquisitor therefore seeks to substitute for belief by freedom, a belief by constraint, and for the freedom of faith, a faith imposed by fear.

Today politicians stir up this fear, throw threats in our faces to force us, in a defensive reflex, to close our eyes and follow them blind. Trying to think freely for yourself is an exhausting requirement that laziness can easily replace. But to refuse our free will is to be part of the great fearful herd, and to have, as when we were children, irrational anxieties, deposited at the foot of the omnipotence of our parents, figures of authority, of absolute knowledge. and reinsurance. Hoping to find appeasement there, we enter into submission, we condemn ourselves to ignorance and miss our own transcendence. Not abdicating, preferring questions to answers, believing in our moral strength, in that of others too, can help us ignore the horrified headlines of an election campaign that offers, alas, so little hope.


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