By now, each one of us has felt the horror and sadness viscerally. We have all said “#JeSuisCharlie” to ourselves, to our friends and colleagues and in status updates using the same hashtag on our social media accounts. #JeSuisCharlie (which means, “I am Charlie” in French), as a hashtag, has come to symbolize the pain and sadness with which the whole world has observed the saga from our comfort zones of offices & homes. People and security officers in France did not have that luxury, with the fear of an imminent attack lurking in their mortified minds.
As a corporation and as an organization that values diversity, freedom of speech & respect for human life, everyone at INT. was horrified by the tragedy that took place at Charlie Hebdo’s 11th arrondissement office in Paris; and our heartfelt sadness & sheer disbelief at the loss of talented human lives and hardworking police officers are beyond what words could probably describe. All over the world, the same shock, sadness and pain were felt when four hostages were killed at the Vincennes Kosher Supermarket.
It has been more than a week since the terrorist attacks took place in France and the world is slowly returning to what it used to be, with yet another Charlie Hebdo issue out on magazine stands. The tenacity and the strength with which the staff of Charlie Hebdo has worked in the last few days & the dignified manner in which most French citizens have reacted to the horror are admirable. Also admirable is the unanimous condemnation of violence from all corners of the world, regardless of nationality or religion. Charlie Hebdo probably will never be silenced, thanks to the efforts of Google, Le Monde (the leading French newspaper) and other generous donors, who have responded with financial, human resource & infrastructural support.
In the safety and comfort of our offices & homes, we can only reflect on what freedom of speech means and how an attack of this proportion can marginalize several communities, which are already vulnerable. Being a tragedy of immense proportions, it hits us raw at Indus Net (INT.) because we are in the business of drawing, creating and animation. While our corporate animation projects have nothing in common with the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, we empathize with their creativity; and it saddens us to think that creativity, no matter how offensive, can hit back at the creators with crude violence.
It saddens us to think that budding cartoonists and satire artists will probably now self-censor, even when they needn’t, out of fear of repercussions. It saddens us to think that more people will continue to crystallize their deeply held biases and prejudices against certain communities because of the actions of a radical few. It saddens us to think that talented cartoonists who used their creativity to question certain ideas were silenced with bullets. We might or might not agree with what artists say or create but they provide us with opportunities to reflect on society and its many shortcomings.
As a society, what are we to do then? To argue, philosophize, intellectualize or rationalize acts of terror is futile. To engage in knee-jerk reactions and beginning to self-censor ourselves is futile too. The only plausible and sensible reaction to the tragedy is to express our genuine shock & grief and to offer condolences to all those who lost their lives or were injured during the attack. Another reaction is to hope; hope that the world will change for the better.
The world over, too many people have lost their lives and continue to do so in other acts of violence & we take this moment to offer our condolences to everyone who was affected by this and the many other unnecessary tragedies which continue to take place. We end this eulogy by hoping that creative expression is not silenced and that marginalized groups are not further marginalized by this act of terror. We hope people everywhere take a moment to pay respect to those who lost their lives; and we hope that the friends & family members of those who lost their lives find the strength to grieve and move ahead, never forgetting the laughter & smiles that those who were slain once gifted to their readers.