This morning we had a lovely, quiet church service at St. CHL. Last Sunday was a dynamic, creatively chaotic children's Epiphany service. Yesterday our little church was packed for the funeral of Barbara's 104 year old Mum. Today - Morning Prayer (an adapted version of the 1962 BCP inserting inclusive language where possible). :-) Lovely hymns. Warm church family life.
We kept the Baptism of Jesus - since snow/ice storm on January 4th led us to kick Epiphany forward. We talked about water, life, meaning... the essential-ness of water to life - and also its capacity for destruction. Water, like power authority can be creative or destructive. We shared images we hold dear of water - Caribbean waves and calm waters, learning to swim in a dam at Rawdon many years ago or in the icy cold Bay of Fundy, tossed like a football from Dad's shoulders and paddling back to him...
What really touched me, though, was the response to a question I posed: How many of you felt "I am Charlie" this past week? I've felt almost guilty that I couldn't see myself as Charlie, and as if I might be in a minority and somehow lacking. Not one person said they felt they were Charlie. Not because they didn't care or hadn't watched the news. Not because the murders in Paris weren't terrible. Because they are aware of other tragedies happening now - and because of the disrespect of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
What a relief. I'm not alone.
I'm not Charlie. I believe fervently in freedom of speech. I believe in respecting people of all faiths and no faith. The murders in Paris were reprehensible. Plain wrong. I'm still not Charlie.
I looked at a few of the cartoons artists at Charlie Hebdo had produced and was disgusted and horrified. The one that will never leave my mind is of the Prophet on his knees - well, you know the one. More description isn't necessary. It reminded me of the horrors at Abu Graibh prison, and the torture and despicable behaviour of American soldiers towards Muslim prisoners.
Even if the Muslim faith supported the use of benign images of the Prophet, (and it doesn't) how can these Charlie cartoons be accepted as examples of free speech? Does free speech not come with responsibility to respect people who are different? Does free speech give us the right to portray what is sacred to some in such a manner? Does free speech mean we can, it would seem deliberately, provoke the ire and resentment of millions of honourable Muslims?
The consequences were inexcusable. I grieve with and for the families of those killed in Paris.
And I ask, as I did this morning at church a second question: Why is there so much uproar - why are so many saying "I am Charlie" rather than I am Nigerian? 2,000 innocents massacred by Boco Haram. Why is this allowed to continue? Why is the world not as outraged about 2,000+ deaths as it is about 17? Why do 40 world leaders come together in Paris with arms linked - "I am Charlie" - Why are they not standing with and for the innocents of Africa? Oh - my cynical side says, " Ohhh - right, Ros. They aren't as outraged, because this is Africa."
I don't want to live cynically. Not innocently, either - or is it naive? To live cynically is to live without hope. And to live without hope is to be paralyzed into thinking we can't make a difference. That it will never be otherwise. That we have learned nothing from the Holocaust, from the Armenian and Rwandan genocides, from the outside influences (you can fill in the blanks) that, in part, keep Haiti and other countries unstable and poor.
I will not live without hope. Today I am Nigerian. I don't know what I can do to make a difference, but for the moment it is a beginning to recognize the tragedy - the tragedy of the massacres and the tragedy that the world powers don't seem to care. Or worse, that the world powers have an investment in the poverty and de-stabilization of these countries.
At the end of the shared homily we read the promises made at baptism - in the more recent liturgies - paying special attention to:
"Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?"
"Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?"
Both of these questions include people of all faiths, colours, languages, gender and sexual orientation... there are no exceptions...
The people in Paris didn't deserve to die. I'm not blaming the victims. I still can't condone the dis-respectful and ugly cartoons that offend our Muslim brothers and sisters. I can't. They make me sick.
Removed Rex Murphy after credible reasons presented by our organist, tom Mennier, not to accept everything Rex says. Or pretty much anything in the media. Sigh.... He presents as facts what we don't know to be facts - eg - the men were killed - so we're not sure what their motive was or who they were. And rather than interfering in Nigeria, for instance - as I asked about DRC at a meeting on Thursday - what are the outside influences on these troubled areas. Who created the borders? What resources are western countries after? Not that that excuses Boco Haram. and do we simply wait while they massacre more people? I don't know the answers - we do need to ask the questions. And challenge our governments. Which group(s) in Africa is our Canadian government selling arms to? Bad grammar. Sorry, Mrs. Tudor.