Recent events in Paris have been traumatic and dreadful. We must remember all those who died in our prayers, as we pray for their families, for the Jewish people and for the people of France. Many are marching in Paris today to remember those who died, the press will probably give it a lot of coverage.
That said, we must remember that Charlie Hebdo was a vile publication. It abused the right to free speech to ridicule and attack those who did not agree with them, particularly men and women of faith - the Muslim faith and the Christian faith. It is no example of the right to free speech since it sought to silence those it did not agree with through deeply offensive cartoons.
I believe in the right to free speech, for all, but it must exist within the suite of all other rights, and among those rights is the right to believe in God and to have that right respected, together with the right to our good name - the right to be a believer without being demonised for it. However, as we listen to the usual suspects speak about free speech, and Voltaire's famous quip is being bandied about: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it", I realise that many of those who are quoting it do not really believe it. If they did they would not censor conservative, pro-life, Christian, pro-natural marriage supporters. And that censorship is certainly in place.
Again we must pray for all who were killed, some of them will probably need those prayers badly, if they made it. Violence is never the answer to being offended: prayer, forgiveness and determination to do what we can to build a more just and respectful society are the answers to that. We must also recognise that Europe is facing serious threats, and so far she has been in denial. She needs to take a good hard look at what has happened in the last number of years. This is not merely a question of immigration, it is a question of values and of faith.
Young people are being radicalised - why? There is a spiritual crisis and they are looking for something to believe in, something to live for, and, yes, even something to die for (as strange and extreme as that sounds). Liberal, permissive, jaded secularism is not filling the gap - the drug-induced, orgasm-fueled dream of the Sixties is not doing it for the youth of today - they've had that ideology pushed in their faces all their lives and now they are rebelling. If the bloodshed is to be stopped, and even greater bloodshed prevented, a different response is needed, and for that Europe may have to go back to discover the true nature of her soul.
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