A wonderful statement by my friend Julian Resnick of Kibbutz Tsora in Israel responding to the shooting yesterday at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
I am also Charlie.
I am also Charlie.
Even though I am not a cartoonist and even though the attack was not against a Jewish target and even though the attack was not against an Israeli target, I am the last two, both Jewish (proudly) and Israeli (proudly), it was an attack against another part of my identity, my progressive identity (once again I am proudly progressive).
What are the ways I identify? Is each part of my identity separate and discreet or are they all part of a single identity?
I have multiple identities and so do you, each and every one of you, of us, has multiple identities. I am a man, a father, a husband, a Jew, an Israeli, a Progressive. And many more as well; I am an ex-South African, I am bilingual (almost trilingual, but my Afrikaans is in decline), I am a doubter when it comes to belief in a transcendental authority, I am a believer when it comes to the mystery of life.
I want to live in a world where we celebrate all identities with one very clear line: the identities we have cannot claim exclusivity, particularly the exclusive right to truth. I cannot live in a world where fundamentalist ideology is supreme.
And here lies the crunch for many of us, especially those of us who want a Progressive world. How do we define those identities which are based on exclusivity and focus on not only othering, but also on a plan of action against others which includes getting rid of the other, or subjugating the other?
My world has place for the Socialist, the Capitalist, the Liberal, the Conservative, the Radical. It does not have place for the Fundamentalist or the Exclusivist.
It is a world where we celebrate multiplicity of truths, we search for accommodation, where we celebrate compromise and diversity. It is therefore extremely complicated and complex. It is not a world of sound bites, of political speeches which create fear and warn us that we have to either destroy or be destroyed. It is a world where solidarity is important. At the same time it is not a pacifist world. It is a world which says "there are things we have to fight for, things we have to defend, that are worth defending". It is not a dreamy world of Peace, Happiness and Flowers. It is a world in which we are sometimes asked to clarify different values which sometimes collide and work out how we create the best possible solution for the greatest number of people.
So as not to be accused of being "airy fairy", with two feet firmly planted in the clouds, it includes Israel as it includes Palestine. It includes synagogues, mosques, temples, shrines and churches and many other places where those who do not worship in traditional manners can explore the meaning of life.
If I could draw, I would end this short piece with a cartoon honouring not only the people murdered yesterday at Charlie Hebdo, but also a cartoon honouring all those who celebrate diversity, who live with doubts, who help the weak without any thought as to who the weak are.