Kittie Howard

Monday, January 12, 2015

Humanity Strong!

Those with sane minds and peaceful hearts reacted as one to the murders in Paris last week, mindful as well of the massacre in northeastern Nigeria, earlier massacres in Kenya, still reeling from from beheadings of innocents and other acts of horror that have filled the news for far too long and, millions strong, raised theirs voices in unison: "Je suis Charlie."

The French love satire. It goes to the heart of who they are, the products of a deep history that gave a newly independent United States the Statue of Liberty, that gave the world Voltaire.

Francois-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance and religious dogma. (Wikipedia)

Some of Voltaire's philosophical sayings include:

Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.

The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason.

To the wicked, everything serves as a pretext.

Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life.

It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.

Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

I might disagree with your opinion, but I am willing to give my life for your right to express it.

Voltaire: "Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.." (Photo source: Wikipedia. For more of Voltaire's sayings go here.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think we lost that last one on the list somewhere along the way...
The latest deaths are beyond terrible. A whole village of two thousand people? That's almost impossible to comprehend.

William Kendall said...

He was very, very wise. We should heed his lessons.

Denise Covey said...

Hey Kittie, a timely post.

Who could say it better than Voltaire and his compatriots? I was so proud of the way the French responded to these atrocities. Many may forget that over the years they have often faced acts of terror and have been able to shrug and move on, c'est la vie, without apparent bitterness.

Now there's a mad scramble for countries to check out their free speech laws and I've heard it mooted in Australia that you will be able to lampoon anyone/anything except Islamists as they might react violently?????

Voltaire: '...those who have lost the power of reason'.

What is going on in Nigeria at this moment is even worse as Islamic State takes over the north, slaughtering thousands. Not to mention those poor little girls that we must not forget. And now those 140+ young boys shot in Pakistan by the Taliban...oh, woe!

Happy New Year Kittie! Long live the freedom to express our opinions and not lose our head.

Paris' motto: "Fluctuat, nec mergitur" (Shaken by the waves, but it will not sink).

Denise :-)

Stephen Tremp said...

Kityy, it is a reminder of what a cold cruel world we really live in. So much to be thankful for as every day is a gift.

Peaches Ledwidge said...

You share such powerful quotes, and this one, of course, is so true.
"Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes."

Mary Aalgaard said...

Wonderful post, Kittie, and those quotes are great. Thanks for posting them.
And, thanks for weighing in on violence in books vs. screen (that's the title I should have used). You are so right. Watching it, we are trapped, and only one sense is used. We don't have time to process it, and with film, we are missing the inner dialogue, the break with description, and the human need to understand and connect.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I was shocked, as everyone else, to hear the news. Hours after the fact, because we are in Bucerias and have no access to English speaking news. I was living a quiet existence, but was awakened when I heard. We shake our heads, feel the impact of such horrendous acts. We feel helpless, hopeless, until we remember that our benevolence exists everywhere despite the chaos and stupidity and blind fascism of others who have forsaken their humanity. Thank you for sharing these quotes, Kittie. The words bring comfort.