The human experience can be pretty confusing. I’m still reeling from yesterday’s news about the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Because I write to make sense of things, I wanted to put this together for my own good. I wanted to sort of curate a collection of the things that gave me a little hope yesterday and today in the wake of murder for the sake of silencing opinion.
Lately I find myself self-censoring when I think about writing on this blog, choosing not to write a post because I don’t know how it’ll be taken by others or if anyone even cares. Charlie Hebdo, on the other hand, has always been the brazen opposite, publishing dirty, dirty, satire that I remember rolling my eyes at when I saw the papers around the newsstands when I lived in Grenoble. But I always loved that it existed and all that French irreverence.
What the Oatmeal has to say about religion in his “How to Suck at Your Religion” cartoon today is totally on point and says so much of what I’m thinking. He also makes a funny point about Judaism that is one of the reasons I am happy to have converted.
The worst part of these attacks is the systematic fear mongering. No one knows the real answer to the question of what happens when we die, but some people are so convinced that they want to kill anyone who doesn’t agree with them, even in the small act of drawing a satirical cartoon to that effect. And it requires a lot of bravery to keep going when your life or the life of someone you love is being threatened. Jon Stewart said on the Daily Show last night that comedy should not be an act of courage, and that was true and sad (and is echoed in the Oatmeal cartoon, not to mention mirrored by the response cartoons that are flooding social media).
I’m not writing this now to rant about terrorism, but to encourage myself and other writers to keep at it. There are too many times that silence speaks volumes – the wrong volumes. As Amy Davidson wrote yesterday in her New Yorker piece on the attack:
“There were times when the French government asked the magazine to hold back, but the magazine kept being itself, which is what one wishes for in a free press. Wednesday’s crime should not cause anyone to second-guess Charlie Hebdo’s editorial decisions. Silence is not where the answers to an incident like this lie.“