Je suis Sonny

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When Islamic extremists attacked and killed 12 people at the offices of the satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris on January 7, it made me think of how our people are afraid to talk about anything that might have repercussions from irate people.

Even I, with just a little notoriety, have been attacked by people whose beliefs were contrary to what I expressed – or didn’t – in one of my columns. This comes with the territory I thought, just like the journalist who witnesses an armed drone fly by, seconds before an explosion blows up some hidden enemy. However, when your intent is not merely to report what just happened, but to poke fun at or attempt to make people smile or laugh while rocket fire roars around you, it comes as no surprise that laughter and happiness are counterbalanced with hate-filled remarks and more unhappiness.

This yin and yang of peace and war, love and hatred, laughter and tears seems to be unbalanced now. There seems to be more forces at work to keep the expressions of peace and happiness at bay. Why?

Perhaps if we look back in time and see ourselves today, can we make out the fuzzy future we might see? That whatever the case may have been – landslides and earthquakes, conflicts and wars, floods and fires – the human spirit remains optimistic and thrives in a world gone mad.

This need to express the opposite of conflict and other insane ideas to a world that is tired of hatred and war is evident in the writings and drawings of contemporary cartoonists. They are the messengers of laughter and fun that are expendable in a war that hides under the guise of holiness, sometimes witnessed live in action or on the tablet in your hand.

When deprived of things, either material or immaterial, people do strange things. This may seem odd, until you understand what the root of their deprivation is. For example, a child who needs their baby bottle acts up until someone understands their apparent dysfunction and gives the crying infant their milk.

The actions of an adult who has lived most of their life deprived of opportunity, rights and respect will often also exhibit some dysfunction. Some might go out and rob a gas station because they need money and adrenaline. Others find a god to justify far more terrible crimes.

These days, I feel almost the same way, but my better half suspects that I may be slightly vitamin-deficient and should get some Flintstone chewable vitamin pills to stave off my depravity. In the same way, when a person or nation is deprived of fun and laughter, the individual or collective body is in deprivation and in danger of dysfunction. Being able to laugh at or off a bad joke is essential to our humanity. We should never forbid humour, much less love and respect for all human beings.

When a cartoon can inflict so much damage on a strong culture, rich with heritage and compassion like France and only a few come out and take it out on you with violence, this is unbalanced.

Happily, millions of people stood up and came right back with another heavy dose of optimism. This is the real world that we don’t get to see headlining the world’s news as often as we should, the average Charlie getting his daily dose of fun and laughter to stave off a peace-deprived world.

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