Je Suis Charlie

By Father John Walsh on January 8, 2015

The world must stand up for freedom, freedom of expression; freedom, pure and simple!  History has proven that the denial of freedom is the greatest obstacle to our development as human beings.  The greatest freedom we have is to seek the truth.  Truth will make you free.  What is the truth about Je Suis Charlie? 

Although we seek truth that is absolute and therefore self-evident, truth is not absolute, it is relative to the events and circumstances in which we seek the truth.  It is not situational but must be situated in the time and space in which truth is sought after.  In the case of Charlie Hebdo, people use their pens as satirists and draw cartoons lampooning people and events in depictions that may be considered extreme to wake people up who otherwise would be very content to live with the status quo.  

The truth is that world-wide humanity is complacent and unmoved by the most extreme horrors humanity can imagine.  We remained silent in the face of the Jewish Holocaust, the Armenian Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and we remained silent about the need to educate girls until Malala was short in the head.  I consider that extreme.  Is it not extreme pain to suffer from starvation, from dislocation and being one of the 52 million refugees looking for a safe place to live?  Is it not extreme cold for the homeless right here in many North American cities?  

Satirists are doing the world a service by using their pens to draw not what the eye sees on paper but drawing our attention to serious issues affecting all of us, sometimes far away and sometimes in our backyard, and provoking us in extremis because otherwise we, as human beings, would not react in a manner that would move us to act on these issues.  The satirists who depict religious figures do so in the extreme because religion fails, time and again, to be self-critical.  Any religion that tolerates any form of murder, for any reason whatsoever, needs to be self-critical and do whatever needs to be done to re-interpret their “sacred” texts to completely obliterate any interpretation of a “sacred” text that can even hint at condoning murder.  Texts are sacred when the truth they advocate is for the betterment of our world and for the betterment of humanity.  No culture is sacred. No religious culture is sacred.  The sacred reality we must uphold and never stop defending is the dignity of each human being.  Our dignity is our extreme expression of who we are as human beings.  The massacre in Paris tries to deny our need to look ourselves in the mirror and recognize ourselves for who we really are. 


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