42 Days

By Alain de Botton

The saving grace of powerful people who do bad things is that they can, with a little bit of help, be made to feel guilty. Conscience is a wonderful tool. The lion can be made to feel a touch awkward about his carnivorous destruction. He can even aspire to the condition of a lamb.

What are the tools in Liberty’s armament? Only the ability, based on nothing more than language and reason, to provoke a spasm of conscience in the men with the guns and the keys. It’s easy to sound bold about 42 days without detention in the daytime; the goal of Liberty is to give the powerful a few bad dreams, which as Hamlet knew, can be very bad news indeed if one’s the prince.