Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words (and cartoons) will never hurt me
This past week has been harrowing for France. Journalists were killed because they dared to make fun of other religions. And not just Islam, to be clear. They regularly ridiculed the Vatican, the Pope, anything and everything. They were irreverant and had no taboos. It doesn't matter if you liked their cartoons or not. I personally never bought Charlie Hebdo and found their cartoons a bit cheesy and at times vulgar. But I respect their right to print what they want. And their motto appeared to be "no limits". As in no one was off limits. As in ridicule everyone equally.
I think Stephen Fry really put it best on his blog this week. He said if the terrorists really had found the truth in their extreme (and let's face it, distorted) form of Islam, they wouldn't be bothered by some silly newspaper. They would laugh it off, because what could it do to change their supposed enlightenment. And as a Facebooker commented while reacting to Fry's blog, Honor those who seek the truth, beware of those who claim to have found it. Which raises the question, how many enlightened Buddhists do you see plotting terrorist attacks? The truly enlightened need not shove it down everyone else's face or get offended by a little cartoon.
If God had an Internet connection, I think he'd tweet #notinmyname.
I am lucky enough through my job and schooling in France, and by nature of where I live (a small urban area) to have met Muslims. Real Muslims who are committed to their faith and who have told me, this is not Islam. Real Muslims don't kill in God's name, they told me. And that they themselves don't know where this radical movement has come from. These are kind, hard-working people. Some of the women wear a head scarf, some don't. Some even celebrate Christmas because they think it would be a shame to deprive their kids of this tradition.
I'm not a highly religious or political person. But I think that the Christian God, Allah and Yahweh are really just different shades of the same color. And that what really counts is how we treat each other. I'm not a saint myself. I could and should speak more kindly sometimes (especially around the house to my own husband). I should give more to charities and volunteer more. But it starts with kindness to those around us. Treating them as we hope to be treated. Wouldn't things be better if we truly lived the golden rule everyday?
There's no such thing as a "holy war"
The third terrorist attacked a police woman and then Jews in a Kosher grocery store. I felt sickened again by this last attack. What does it solve to kill people of another faith? And it's happening in Irak and Syria, too, as we speak. Christians and even different Muslim factions are killed in these places. I know Christians are not blameless in history- just look at the Crusades. But at least now, it seems, Christians have evolved somewhat and don't use arms against other religions.
There was a funny and thoughtful scifi series my mom and sister and I used to watch called Red Dwarf. In one episode, there was a holy war based on whether the truly faithful should wear red or blue hats to honor their God. And this war had resulted in death and destruction. It seemed funny, but it was all too true. What if it all comes down to some silly detail that truly makes no difference? Won't these "holy" warriors feel a bit ashamed when they realize they were fighting the wrong fight?
The pen is still mightier than the sword
Sometimes I wonder if my blog has a purpose. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it doesn't have a lot of readers. But I want to write my feelings and process them. I feel a need to write my thoughts. And I hesitated to write this post, but given the context, and the clear attack on freedom of speech last week, I felt that I needed to. So I will dedicate this post to all those innocent lives taken this week. And I will write it boldly and proudly: Je suis Charlie, Je suis juive, Je suis policière. I am Charlie, I am Jewish, I am a police officer. Because when you attack one of them, you attack me and all of humanity. And we're not going to take it lying down.