Categories
news

What ails you, Charlie Hebdo?

I happen to enjoy satire and I try to protect myself by being as oblique as possible when I’ve published anything of that nature. Satire is the lifeblood of French culture. It took down the Bourbons in events making up the French Revolution. Even if someone else’s satire is offensive, I’ll still give it a chance. I’ve never reacted with anger to any form of satire because people don’t resort to that unless there is something that ails them. Satire is a way of digging deep into the person for whom the offensive remark was meant. It hacks away at the worth, standing or perceived prestige of the other. So, what has been ailing you, Charlie Hebdo?

Put differently, what gets overlooked when reacting to satire is “What causes the satirical remarks to come into being?” I’ll offer that we don’t pay attention to how we treat others. Many of us adopt a position of correctness and superiority when we talk to people. We don’t strive to deal with others on an equal footing, or give them the benefit of the advantage. I visited the blog of a beloved follower. He was opining on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. I agreed with his sentiments wholeheartedly. I also find subsequent events ironic.

I read a comment that resonated with me, and tried to welcome that thought by responding to it in a positive way. However, I was very upset after that person advised me to read a book on how to communicate nonviolently. Still fuming, I almost deleted my blog when shortly after that another reader requested that I publish more lifestyle posts from Jamaica. Just because I wrote “I was born in Jamaica” on my about the author page, even though I also wrote that I no longer live there.

I’m extremely sensitive about being condescended to because I know that a lot of people rush to judge. Two things happen: Not paying attention to the information in front of you; and only giving value to the superficial, digestible data. I did that to a blogger in Thailand yesterday. I assumed she was Thai herself, and I paid her a compliment. I apologised immediately when I noticed my mistake. I put myself in her position. I do not want to take time away from my busy inner life to adjust another person’s opinion of me.

Why the rush to judge people? And it’s not the overt statements themselves that are judgemental. It is what is implied in what we say that’s the culprit. I strive to not pat others on the head because it is so easy to assume things and make statements that may unintentionally injure another person’s dignity.

The media will again focus on the gory details at Charlie Hebdo. They must do that because we are distractible and don’t want a careful examination of all the issues right now. We want to react, and it’s easy to blame the attackers and the editors themselves. Most of us may never see that we are creating the same situation in our day to day interactions. The people we unintentionally hurt or injure may realise this, and use satire to make us pay attention to what we’ve done to them.

Peace on Earth? If only I could get that all the time.