Freedom of Expression
and “Je suis Charlie”
Last month on January 7, 2015, the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo was target of a terrorist attack in its Paris headquarters that killed twelve people and injured several. The editorial endured previous attacks for its controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. A few days later, world leaders and several millions of people from different nationalities and religions participated in a solidary march in Paris and other regions supporting the victims and freedom of speech.
“Je suis Charlie”, meaning in French “I am Charlie”, became a symbol of Freedom of Expression and solidarity. It has since been used globally and in all languages.
This event triggered different reactions around the world on many levels. There was another attack to a Jewish supermarket and additional threats, protests and attacks within France and other places. Muslims marched peacefully condemning terrorism and asking the world to stop identifying fundamentalism with the Islam religion. Several Hollywood actors held the “Je suis Charlie” sign during the Golden Globe Award supporting the Freedom of Expression and mentioning the attack and victims in their speeches. President Obama was criticized all over the news for not participating in the march, while some of the world leaders were considered as hypocrites for joining the march when they support violence and repressive media in their own countries. It was also said that this event had such a great impact because it happened in Paris, when terrorist attacks and lack of freedom of speech happen all around the world every single day.
At the same time, this event generated a beautiful wave of solidarity and unity among people of all faiths around the globe as an opportunity to create a shared vision of the world we want to see.
I first shared with you a brief background in case you were not familiar with it and now, as the White Wind reminds us and speaking my truth, I want to express how I personally feel about it.
Free Speech and RESPECT
“Je ne suis pas Charlie”
Before the attack, I was not aware of this publication. When searching for it online, the level of aggression I found in many of their images surprised me, considering all the support they got from the French Government and a couple of private media companies. From their 60,000 regular weekly printings, the first edition after the attack was said to be around 5 million!
Charlie Hebdo is a publication that makes fun of all religions and politicians equally and without distinguishing faith or background. Some of their caricatures are ‘innocent’, but most are certainly not and I personally couldn’t find any humor in them. Reading about its staff members, they said to be atheist and that nothing was sacred to them.
While I am a spiritual and non-religious person, I accept and respect all walks of faith and I support freedom on all levels. And, under absolutely no circumstance, violence is ever justified!
Nevertheless, while I join the wave of solidarity that is creating a shift in consciousness for a better world, I do not identify myself with the slogan “Je suis Charlie”, but rather with “Je ne suis pas Charlie” (“I am not Charlie”). David Brooks from The New York Times made an interesting observation.
Instead of focusing on analyzing what happened and its implications from the various points of view, this is a great opportunity to reflect on the things we identify ourselves with and what freedom of expression really means to each one of us.
Are we truly totally free to express ourselves however we want to?
Bullying is also a form of expression and it is a major issue in our modern society where so many children and people of all ages are suffering from it.
I feel that this type of satirical publication is an extreme type of bullying and very disrespectful towards religious people to whom their spiritual leader is the most sacred. Charlie Hebdo says on its website “Freedom of Expression is a fundamental right”, with which I totally agree. The only thing that is missing is Respect, which is also a fundamental right.
I am not saying that satirical publications or any type of communication need to be censured. “Freedom of expression” means to be free to express oneself the way we want to. I just don’t identify myself with any form of expression when it becomes a total lack of respect to others. For me, this type of publication is disempowering, creates separation and keeps society dysfunctional.
Communication comes in many ways, not only verbal. We are living in times that require discernment and deeper levels of awareness and connection. And in these unique times of massive transformation that are filled with opportunities to grow collectively as we transition into a new paradigm, we need to shift our approach to how we relate to and respect one another in spite of our differences.
Happy New Lunar Year!
Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram
Many cultures in Asia recently celebrated their New Year, some call it Year of the Goat and others Year of the Sheep or Ram.
Now that the Year of the Horse ended, we are invited to shift from an energetic pace to a more gentle and peaceful experience.
May we be mindful on how we use forms of expression that help to increase the vibrations of love and peace within our hearts and in our beautiful planet!
In Lak’esh & Munay,
Yellow Electric Star
mariela [at] mayankin [dot] com
+1 (832) 454-3113
In Lak’esh means “I am another yourself!”, a Mayan greeting that recognizes the Divine in each living Being. It’s a message of Unity that reminds us that, when we give, we are also receiving. In this way, the Mayan honored and respected each other, reinforcing the belief that we are all interconnected: what we do to others and to our environment will also affect ourselves in the end…
Munay means both ‘Love’ and ‘Beauty’ in Quechua, the language of the Incas. Munay, translated as ‘To love’, is one of the three principles of the Andean way.
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