To kill a mocking voice

From the dawn of time to the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 in Paris, France, man continues to use whatever means at his disposal to control other men. Military might, economic power, trading agreements, violence or the threat of it, prestige, and privileged position—these are all wielded by individual countries, groups of countries, and individuals, in their quest to subjugate man to their will.

Race, ethnicity, caste systems, class systems, intellectual punditry, politics, religion, and just plain greed, are some of the hobgoblins that feed the shallow need for domination. And, none is immune. From “superpower” nations—and the world has seen its fair share of those—to caliphates, to kings, to transnational corporations, to the poor neighbor who lords it over his poorer neighbor, we just can’t seem to quash the urge to be “bigger”, “better”, or “purer” than somebody or everybody else, so we can enjoy the attendant “benefits” that this status brings.

Front entrance of Roman Catholic Minor Basilica
Front entrance of Roman Catholic Minor Basilica-Castries, Saint Lucia

Why do we continually allow our various diversities to create the imps who provoke dastardly behaviors?  Why doesn’t the 20/20 vision of history guide current behaviors so we can avoid the mistakes of the past? Do we all have a rogue gene in our DNA that presupposes this cognitive state? And, if not, why, then, do so many of us still harken to religious, political, race, and other dogma to inflict severe pain, and worse, on others? And, too, why do so many of us believe that it is okay, because it is legally permissible, to heap shame, insult, or dishonor on others in the name of free speech and freedom of expression?

Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Castries, Saint Lucia
Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Castries, Saint Lucia

A little over four decades ago, I read a passage from a book wherein the writer laments: “O religion, what sins are committed in thy name!” Those sins that the writer refers to are not committed in the name of religion, per se, but in the name of a merciful God Who, all such religions teach, frowns on all sin. Whether we choose to call this God Yahweh, JAH, Jehovah, Allah, or something else, the characteristics we ascribe to Him suggests a universality that is unassailable, and which goes beyond race, ethnicity, or a caste construct. Is this God so weak, so powerless to defend His name or that of His prophets—living or dead—that He accepts men’s vile actions perpetrated against other men based on an interpretation or misinterpretation of His written word?

Seventh Day Adventist Church in Castries, Saint Lucia
Seventh Day Adventist Church in Castries, Saint Lucia

Christian crusades, jihads—fought against the heathen or the infidel, in the name of God, have darkened the annals of civilization for millennia. And, the senseless slaughter has almost always been conceptualized, planned, and implemented by “holy men” whose utterances are seemingly unquestionable and absolute, and who operate from a “safe” distance; “holy men” who assume the judgment power of God and commit mayhem in His name.

First Baptist Church in Castries, Saint Lucia
First Baptist Church in Castries, Saint Lucia

The Charlie Hebdo matter simmered for years. From the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Postens, cartoon depiction of the prophet Mohammed in 2005, to the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, republishing the cartoons in February, 2006, in defiance of the violent stand taken against the Danish newspaper, it all came to a murderous head on January 7, 2015 when two men stormed the offices of the Paris magazine. And, as is always the case, the questions, the recriminations, the never-ending soul-searching begins. And, as is always the case, the oft-repeated, hollow phrase “never again” is sounded, then forgotten in the seemingly benign beginning of yet another massacre.

Universal Church of Christ in Castries, Saint Lucia
Universal Church of Christ in Castries, Saint Lucia

Why do we continue to treat God as if He were one of us? Why do we continue to use our finite reasoning to probe the infinite? What makes us think we can punish those whom we consider to have acted with impropriety towards God or His prophets? Yes, I believe it is morally repugnant for one to attack another’s religious beliefs in a manner that causes hurt, insult, or dishonor! But, I believe it is even more repugnant for one to effect a revenge killing in the name of God or His prophets! After all, didn’t God give us free will or choice in the matter of our everyday actions to which, ultimately, He alone, and not anyone else, has the power to hold us accountable? Why, then, do men mock God further, by claiming His Divine right to retribution against those who rebel against Him?

I leave it to the “experts” to answer most of the questions I’ve posed above. I do know this, however: with due regard to free will or choice bestowed upon us all by God, I must declare, “I am Charlie.”




2 thoughts on “To kill a mocking voice”

  1. Just an excellent article. And to bring it just a little closer to home, I’ve often mused that the connection between the nastiness I see in blog comments and events in the larger world, like the massacres of Christians in the Middle East or the massacres in Nigeria by members of Boko Harum, isn’t exactly indirect. Anonymity tends to bring out the worst, whether it’s anonymous postings or the wearing of a black hood.

    In our western world, at any rate, we’ve created for ourselves a terrible problem with the moral relativism that began (as far as I can tell) in the sixties. Having declared for some decades that no belief system is superior to another, and that every opinion is valid, it’s a logical conclusion that all behavior is acceptable. When that behavior brings us to the horrors of today, those who hold that world view have no answer.

    Thanks fof this.

    1. I quite agree with you on the issue of “moral relativism”. For example, many of us have turned into apologists for young people who commit serious crimes because, we say (often, without supporting evidence), “they are unemployed.”

      And, while I believe that every opinion-holder is entitled to his/her opinion (after all, that’s what free speech is all about), that doesn’t necessarily translate to it being valid.

      The problem is, too many of us remain silent in the face of truly monstrous opinions and behaviors. Even when those opinions and behaviors have not yet reached the point of horror, but reveal glimpses of a possibly frightful future, many of us say or do nothing. Perhaps someone is a friend who might feel offended, or the friend of a friend, or the son or daughter of a friend, or even one’s own son or daughter.

      Speaking out doesn’t have to mean an angry outburst, or a denunciation, or condemnation, or accusation. It can simply be a softly-spoken, kind word that shares another point of view, which, just may, ultimately save a life (in more ways than one) or several lives in the future.

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