Yesterday, something amazing happened in Paris, France. In response to the senseless slaughter of twelve employees of Charlie Hebdo, three million people gathered together to show the extremists that freedom cannot be defeated by those that would seek to impose their narrow views upon the rest of us through the barrel of a gun. What is notable about these three million people is that they were Muslim, Jew, Christian, those of many other faiths and those of no faith. Most notable among those three million gathered? The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas putting aside their differences in a show of solidarity against these extremists. While this was not without controversy, and some political motivations, at least it’s a start.
Whatever motivations these three gunmen had – ultimately to spread terror and fear – has backfired. Hopefully this represents a shift in the collective consciousness of humanity. You see, those three million people were not standing as individuals, but as one. For one moment in history, there were no Muslims, no Jews, no Christians, no atheists. They human beings standing together as one.
Defeating extremists and extremism in all its ugly forms will take more than one rally. I believe education is one of the keys. Religious leaders of all faiths educating their followers of the pitfalls and dangers of extremism. Those of us who profess no religious faith are not immune to our own brand of extremism. Atheist writers have become known for ‘stirring up the pot’ when writing about religious faith. This type of rhetoric from all sides does nothing to solve the issues.
Hopefully, the Paris rally, and similar rallies held around the world have sent a clear message to those that would attack freedom loving people everywhere! You are neither acting on behalf of your God, nor are you acting like civilized human beings.