Just below this paragraph is a joke. I’m throwing that out there at the beginning. You will have to scroll down for it. It is a joke I learned about 20 years ago. I was reminded of it last night during a fascinating discussion at a meeting of brilliant young minds.
It is a Jesus joke. I post it here because it is, in its essence, the same joke that was the cover of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. Ready? Okay, here’s the joke.
A man walks into a church, a visitor, his first time. It is a beautiful sunny day and he’s a good Sunday morning mood. He greets people warmly, he sings the opening hymn at the top of his lungs, during the ‘greeting time’ he hugs people and laughs loudly. Finally a few people come to him and say this is not how they worship at their church and let him know he might be more comfortable worshipping elsewhere.
As the man is sitting on the front steps on the church wondering what it was he did wrong, Jesus came up and sat next to him. “Don’t feel bad,” said Jesus. “I’ve been trying to get in there for years.”
There you go. Essentially that’s the same joke as was on the cover of Charlie Hebdo. The overall point being that sometimes people are so busy being religious they don’t see they aren’t following the one who started the religion. The magazine cover of Charlie Hebdo depiected a member of ISIS murdering the prophet Mohammad. The prophet is saying "I'm the prophet you idiot." The ISIS miltant is saying, "Die Infidel!"
So what I first thought was...it wasn’t about the joke. No reasonable person would take so offense to that joke they would murder the ones who created it.
My second thought was... we are not dealing with reasonable people. Which brings us back to...it wasn’t about the joke.
So it was about the offense then?
No it wasn’t about the offense. I read somewhere we have become the United States of the Offended. ANYthing that is said...someone....somewhere will take offense.
So it wasn’t about the offense. It wasn’t about the joke.
It was about fear and prejudice...about making you afraid and telling you who’s to blame.
It was about control.
When it’s about control we can either give control to the ones who are trying to make us afraid or we can stop being afraid.
Take away the fear and you take back the control.
There’s a reason it’s called terrorism.
Aaron Sorkin wrote that terrorism has a 100 percent failure rate. It never works. Those you are trying to control with fear always always always rise up again.
Fear is strong. Fear gives birth to prejudice and ignorance but love is stronger than all of it. Love is the strongest thing there is.
Love always hopes, always protects, always trusts, always endures, always perseveres. Love does not lose. Ever.
None of that answers the question what do we do about people who shoot cartoonists, or journalists or politicians or missionaries.
Maybe love can be the side effect.