Non-violence is the solution to the problem with Charlie Hebdo

Harry Phillips, Editor-in-Chief

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages,” Thomas A. Edison.

Twelve people died in a terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine based in Paris, France on Jan. 7. Al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for the attack on the magazine. Many people agree what happened at the magazine was horrible, but some religious communities are now protesting the magazine even more now.

As a journalist and an American, I feel sorry for the people who died on that fateful day because of terrorism. I believe strongly in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. People should be allowed to say what they want when they need to say it and that right must be extended throughout the world, even to people who abuse the privilege.

The people at Charlie Hebdo were exercising their right to free speech, which includes making fun of religions. There was no reason their opponents had to resort to violence.

If you do not agree with what the magazine was doing, there are other methods to show that you do not approve. You could boycott the magazine, you could send in a letter to the editor, or you could protest peacefully. Remember, many civil battles are won through these methods. Protestors could take a page out of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior’s non-violent playbooks.

Gandhi once said that “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

I admit, I have lost my temper over tiny things and it is hard to live up to these standards of non-violence. But I had other options, like meditating or going for a run. If you disagree with someone, like the terrorists disagreed with Charlie Hebdo, you should communicate your thoughts in a non-violent manner.

So in short, violence is not necessary. If you are outraged about something, speak your mind, protest, boycott and do whatever you have to do to shed light on the obstacle you are trying to overcome. However, do it peacefully because violence will only send all the progress you have made down the drain.

If you resort to cruder tactics than the people you oppose, you bring negative light on yourself, rather than on the people doing the activity you deplore, like the Charlie Hebdo artists. I could see how their satirical drawings about religion could be offensive to people. But now, by claiming “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), we all side with them.