Archive for January, 2015

“Love ye one another as I have loved you.”

~Jesus the Christ, John 15:12

Bricks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never harm me. Remember that? When we were kids at home, this was our favorite retort against harmless name-calling. As we were not allowed to say unkind words to each other, which, today, still instructs me. In fact, back then to even think about calling each other “a lie” risked the wrath of our mom, as that was generally considered very offensive.

And so, early on, we kids learned how to respect other people, which is an impersonal form of Universal Love (compassion, kindness) that I was destined to realize later in life.

Of course, once in the real world, away from Mom’s refined rules of behavior, I would soon realize how hurtful words could be, and naturally avoided such whenever I could. Sadly, this was not always easy as there were, and still are, some folks who delight in using clever ways to hurt or even devastate others with their cruel expressions while giving a false pretense of having either good or amusing intentions. With a natural aversion to violence of any kind, I managed to stay true to my homespun values, and still do.

Charlie Hebdo, a Once Obscure French Magazine

Sadly, with all due respect to the victims, their friends and families, and that classic nation known as La Belle France, this brings us to the January 7th assassinations in Paris of Stéphane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo’s main publisher, and the other sacred souls tragically caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Done by woefully misguided assailants and later killed by the French police, railing against the magazine’s graphically obscene caricatures of their highly respected religious founder was their cause. Yet, this, of course, is never the way of the wise and the compassionate.

As we are meant to live for a cause and find a better way, a way that extends life and uplifts us all! Thus, the fatal actions of the ill-advised assassins must be widely condemned, together with the hateful images routinely published in the Charlie Hebdo Magazine.

Initiating a most tragic, international event that is still ongoing; a week later on January 14, this once obscure French magazine, heretofore barely surviving financially, boldly publishes yet another offensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, though less profane perhaps.

Nonetheless, this controversial issue is now selling in the millions according to CNN’s live reports from Paris. So why am I not laughing, indeed!

Free Speech or the Money

Recently, Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a renowned professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, appeared on Democracy Now, a popular radio program, with hosts Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh during their continued coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

While Dr. Ramadan rightly condemned the tragic killings and expressed condolences to the victim’s families, he also well stated that the cartoonist’s practice of “nurturing controversies” by insulting the Prophet or Islam is neither intelligent nor a decent way to deal with freedom of expression, though their rights must be protected.

Of course, Dr. Ramadan’s mention of the magazine’s allegedly known financial challenges that included bankruptcy over the last two years, “which has nothing to do with courage” but more “to do with making money” by mainly targeting the marginalized Muslim community, is not only stunning but heartbreaking, having known such in my own country.

Sadly, instead of taking the old ‘do or die ‘stand for the right to free speech as often touted by Stéphane Charbonnier deemed proud to offend, who once said he would rather “die standing than live on my knees”, he could have chosen to ‘live’ a better way. The way of a real comic, a genius whose sole purpose is to humor rather than savagely offend!

Instead, likely feeling invincible, could Charlie’s doomed editor have arrogantly dismissed the previous attacks on its offices, the ensuing death threats and allegedly stoked the flames of religious controversy just for the money?

Of course, as many well know, it would not be the first time that arrogance, combined with sheer tenacity, has overwhelmed commonsense in the hard pursuit of money.

But, what about the consequences, the tragic cost of human life, the suffering of those left behind? Is humanity more important than the money? And what of the increase in the systemic fear that seemly has engulfed the country, if not entire the world?

Only Love Can Cure the Disease of Fear

To mourn the devastating losses and assuage the mounting fears after the catastrophic attacks in Paris that ultimately killed 17 people, that following Sunday with more than a million people behind them, over 40 world leaders (and/or their envoy) came together, linked arms and marched down the historic Boulevard Voltaire in a Rally for Unity against fear, now deemed “the largest demonstration in French history”.

Ultimately inspired, it was a great statement of resolve that quietly personified “La Marseillaise,” the rather bloody but very passionate French national anthem (sounds better in French). This moving anthem is said to be first sung by army volunteers marching in the streets of Marseille in the late eighteenth century.

Of course, seeing Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel marching at the center of her male equals was also very significant. As poignant memories of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King marching in the rural streets of Selma Alabama, not too long ago, for peace and justice against the madness of systemic hatreds rushed into my mind.

Yet, having not learned how to love one another successfully thus far, here we are again beset by that insidious virus of systemic fear! This time marching in Paris France no less.

Thus, as Dr. King once said in part: “Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.”

And so, the united march against pervasive fear and social injustices persists until humanity finally wakes up and gets it right.

Getting it Right!

First, relative to free speech, society needs to make clear, at all times, the difference between free speech and hate speech and stand behind it. As this has not always been made clear by the news media during its recent Charlie Hebdo discussions, which are still ongoing.

Of course, while bound by its own laws that protect free speech, as reported recently, on occasion the French authorities did attempt to deter the wretched contents of Charlie Hebdo. Sadly, though receiving copious death threats continuously, usually by mail, the magazine’s editor, Mr. Stéphane Charbonnier was not deterred, which ultimately led to his death.

Next, rather then going into denial as many in government and the media seem to be, now is the time to wake up and get it right. Owing to advanced technology and evolution in general, the world has changed completely!

Many people of a different hue or religion have been living in European society for some time now. Thus, generations have been born and raised there, and are now free to live and make their own choices. Thus, European rule is no longer isolated and free to decide what “those people” from distant lands should like and how they should feel.

Moreover, as we now know, unlike most rational people who have learned the wisdom of peaceful protest when marginalized by society’s injustices, some of “those people” who decide to think differently are foolishly willing to die for their beliefs, much like Stéphane Charbonnier then editor of Charlie Hebdo as previously stated.

While malicious propaganda, now trying to pass as free speech, has been used in the past to subjugate and marginalize certain groups of people, usually for economic gain, today such undemocratic socialization is fast becoming obsolete! As its intended targets are now more informed, more connected, and much more aware of the psychological dangers inherent in hateful propaganda.

And so we all must wake up, learn from our miserable mistakes heaped on the rest of humanity for far too long, and change for the better! And thus resolve to not let the terribly misinformed individuals on both sides of the equation continue to die.

Instead, let’s begin, first by example then by our healing words, to teach each one how to live, how to love unconditionally, and, most importantly, how to laugh! It is then and only then can humanity begin to get it right!

Hope for a New Day

According to a recent article in the Washington Post (Massive Crowds Join March for Solidarity in Paris), France’s chief rabbi Haïm Korsia is quoted as saying: “Why do we always have to be united by tears?”

That said, here is hoping that one day, when the climate is favorable to more colorful attire, a march for Peace and Unity will soon be held. Again, bringing together world leaders and religious scholars to lead a march down the historic Boulevard Voltaire.

Since only love can cure the disease of fear, this time a more positive mantra that simply states “I am Loved” will do splendidly. As this affirms who we really are!

And so, with each one affirming “I am Loved” by millions of people everywhere, the world would change instantly! Thus a divine promise is fulfilled.

As we are all in this together, on that day humanity will take a giant leap towards getting it right! And the real work for world peace and unity truly begins.

© Delores L. Adams and The Aunt Jemimah Post 2015. All rights reserved.

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