After being hung for days on to news channels and the tracks of these murderers who stormed into Charlie Hebdo’s conference room and sent bullets flying in every direction, the process of mourning and commemoration gradually replaced the shock and fear sweating off the attacks.
And this is when we started seeing our smarter-than-the-rest friends, who pointed out that supporting the #JeSuisCharlie movement was exactly the opposite mindset Charlie Hebdo had all these years, going against the huddled masses and their pathetic leaders.
Here come people raising pictures of the world’s presidents, ministers, and ambassadors, standing in the streets, screaming hysterically at the number of deaths and murders some are held responsible for, vociferating their hatred of the “hypocrisy” on display, going on endlessly about mass-culture and how our dead cartoonists would have “loathed” the movement of support they’re being shown.
I’m usually the first to quote Mark Twain and his brilliant advice:
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.
But for whoever-your-God-is’s sake, can we appreciate for a moment the fact that two millions people went down in the street to oppose terrorism with the values that we tried to build France upon? Liberté, égalité, fraternité?
Can we admire the gathering of people no matter what political party they belong to, no matter their age, skin color or religion? Can we acknowledge the fact that this is the first time in history that people felt French and proud of being French after the 1998 World Cup?
This is the only time I have seen people raising our flag without being qualified as dangerous nationalists or chauvinist madcaps. People raised the blue-white-red stripes because for once it meant something to them. And don’t get me wrong, a lot of other flags were raised, because those values—as utopian as they sound—resonate with every human, no matter from where.
But can we please skip over these never ending fights about who’s evil and who’s right, and what dead people would have said if they were not, and how some people exploit the occasion to collect more public support, and just look at the millions of people who, no matter how naive, called for a better world and promised each other to protect love, freedom of speech and tolerance?
Finally, can we let people be shocked and scared by the savage killing of seventeen human lives, no matter who they belonged to? Can we let them wash the trauma with their tears, and warm up their hearts by rubbing them against one another?
The cartoonists would probably have taken the piss at the masses and their leaders as they used to, but I don’t think any of them would have rejected the light that came out of this darkness. This is the light in the eyes of a population that never thought for a second it would be able to get itself together and walk out there, shielding across her head the sacred values of a republic that she thought everyone had forgotten a long time ago.
We did not. And we won’t for a long time.
Je suis Charlie.
This post originally appeared at Medium.