I am not Charlie

Norayr Hajian What happened in Paris was an awful and brutal and shameful tragedy. It is incomprehensible that someone would brazenly and carelessly take the lives of others because they were offended. Those terrorists were wrong. They were dead wrong. B

Norayr Hajian

What happened in Paris was an awful and brutal and shameful tragedy. It is incomprehensible that someone would brazenly and carelessly take the lives of others because they were offended. Those terrorists were wrong. They were dead wrong.

But I am not Charlie, and I hope I never become Charlie. Why?

Because Charlie represents everything I am not.

In the name of “free speech” Charlie consistently and systematically mocked everything and everyone. It didn’t matter – politician, clergy, whoever, wherever. Their unwritten creed was “we don’t care about your feelings.” We don’t care what our satire does to you. We don’t care if you are offended. We don’t care if you are insulted. We simply don’t care.

And so they would mock. They would ridicule. They would insult. They would degrade. And they would do all this knowing full well that the people or groups they were targeting would be deeply offended. But that wasn’t their concern. Their concern was doing what they wanted regardless of how anyone else felt.

Very unfortunately (and of course criminally) a group of people responded with the exact same attitude. They didn’t care how the people in the office felt. They didn’t care about how the family members would feel by their ruthless, brutal action. They didn’t care if people were hurt. They too simply didn’t care about others.

While it is easy (and obvious) to point to the horrible actions of the terrorists (and to call it horrible is putting it mildly), and while no one deserves being gunned down in cold blood, what happened in Paris shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

If my attitude is, “I will do what I want regardless of how it makes you feel,” why should we be surprised when the other retaliates in some measure without any regard to how the first person felt?

We have this thing called free speech. But we also have this thing called responsibility.

Just because we have a right does not mean it is wise or even proper to exercise that right – particularly when it steps on other people.

In a civil society, we have (or should have) something called respect. Respect means we treat people who we disagree with (even when we disagree vehemently) as a human. That means, we don’t mock and ridicule and insult (unless we are still in Grade 3). It means we care about the other person.

This, I believe, is what Jesus modeled. He met all kinds of opposition. People rejected him. They denied him. They mocked him. They even crucified him. He didn’t mock them in return. At times, he kept silent. When social outcasts were brought to him, he didn’t ridicule them. He even went to eat with sinners.

Jesus never condoned sin. He never swept it under the rug. He never pretended it wasn’t important. He didn’t say “you can believe whatever you want.” Jesus had strong convictions and he made those known. There was no other way. However, even with those who were so opposed to him, he treated them with a measure of dignity.

That is what is sadly lacking in our world, and it is only worse because of the anonymity offered by the Internet.

And so I am not Charlie. Charlie didn’t have respect for others. He didn’t care. And sadly, very sadly and very tragically, others choose to exercise the same lack of respect.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not at all condoning or excusing the horrible acts perpetuated in Paris. They were evil, plain and simple. And I’m not at all suggesting that Charlie got what he deserved. But what I am saying is that when someone pushes and pushes and pushes, you shouldn’t be surprised when others push back. The tragedy is that they pushed back in the only way they know. Guns.

We need to treat one another with respect. Even if we disagree. Especially when we disagree.

Biblically speaking, any form of communication I use should be primarily focused on “building someone up,” not tearing them down.

Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Philippians 1:27: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

May God help us to conduct ourselves in such a manner.

Norayr Hajian lives in Whitehorse and has served as pastor of the Whitehorse Church of the Nazarene since 1987.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read