Terrorists shot up the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo today, killing 12 and wounding five others. Allegedly the massacre was a direct result of the paper satirizing Mohammed. But Charlie Hebdo had been satirizing religions and governments and leaders and the world for over two decades. Only radicals had ever reacted in this way, first firebombing their offices, and then, today, murdering a good portion of the staff.
This is not the work of religious men, not the deeds of spiritual souls. This is the work of extremists. It is a mistake for these murderers to think any God is on their side in this. A brief look in any direction will tell you the creator of this world has a sense of humor and does not worry about what is said or drawn or printed.
We are a funny bunch, we humans. Infinitesimally, microcosmically tiny in relation to all of creation (or just the parts of the universe we know about) and some of us are still willing to kill those who do not think like they do.
Those efforts are doomed to failure. Humans aren’t built to think one way, we cannot function under a hive mind. It is our creator’s supreme gift; we are meant to mix, to blend, to grow together, and our creator is waiting for us to ascend to the level where we finally get this, finally understand the folly of the lines we draw and the sides we take, finally see how foolish we are for insisting on differences, for waging war over our own importance.
Humorists and satirists get this and do the brave work of trying to lead us beyond our artificial restrictions and prejudices.
Today some of those brave souls paid the ultimate price for their leadership.
But they did not die in vain. Charlie Hebdo or something like it will continue to challenge our self-image and self-importance and self-delusion. Charlie Hebdo or something like it will ask us to rise above our safety zones and get the joke–
–that we aren’t the chosen people, or God’s favorites, or the rightful rulers of anything. We’re just us, just humans, all of us, together. And the only real way for us to ascend is to forgive each other our trespasses and embrace our differences and laugh at how silly we can be.
Once we do, we’ll all be, at long last, truly closer to what we’re meant to be.
Charlie Hebdo knew that. Bless their souls for trying to teach the rest of us.
</ Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.<