I was terribly distressed by the events against Charlie Hebdo on the 7th January, 2015. I know I am not alone with the distress I feel. Today I want to put some thoughts about it down . I want to be able to talk to my children about what is happening in the world in a way that is positive and a way that allows me to continue to believe that our world is humane and hopeful.
The US Department of Defense defines Terrorism as the “unlawful use of — or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives”. I believe that the behavior of terrorists is incorrect. I believe that most of us believe that the use of force and violence or threatened use of force or violence is abhorrent and the fear that it engenders is also abhorrent. I also believe that one of the problems with terrorism is many people disagree about the role that governments and societies have played in why this terrorism has come about and what our response as individuals and society and as governments should be.
While considering my thoughts about this problem I found the names of a number of terrorist organizations. There are many – Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and ISIS are a few of the more notorious ones. There a numerous more listed on the Australian government terrorist watch list. 17 people were murdered in Paris in January as a result of some political cartoons. It is also alleged that 2000 people were murdered in Nigeria in January by the organization Boko Haram. I am surprised that the Paris incident has caused such an outpouring of public outrage and the murders in Nigeria have not caused such an enormous response.
Regardless of the response I believe that we have as a human race joined together to denounce the use of terrorism.
I have also read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is available on the United Nations website and the list of human rights on the Amnesty International Website. It is no surprise that neither place states that it is a basic human right to kill others to persue vengeance for your religious persecution. I have had quite a lot of discussion around the kitchen table with my family about the French’s right to persue free speech and publish cartoons that invoke anger and therefore heighten the possibility of violence as in the case of Charlie Hebdo. Personally I would prefer to live in an environment where members of our community care for each other and are compassionate towards those of different races and religions. I would prefer that cartoons such as those that Charlie Hebdo publish are restricted.
I also believe in free speech. I do not agree with the way Charlie Hebdo delivered their message but I agree with their right to say it. Some individuals will find these political cartoons offensive and some will find the black humour an appropriate avenue to highlight issues. I believe if 10 different people read the same newspaper article, listen to a the same speech, go to the same lecture, participate in the same social media sites each individual will have a different response. Each individual is responsible for their own emotional response. If we do not like what is said that does not give us the right to use violence or even offensive language as a response.
In teaching my children about terrorism I will continue to use this example. I will teach that we each have responsibility for our own emotional response to situations. I will explain that just because we do not like what is said or done it gives no excuse to use violence of any kind as a response. I will continue to believe that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” ( as stated in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). I will continue to believe that we should not ourselves use violence to combat terrorism.