Cowardly killings that took place yesterday in Paris triggered absolute shock and horror in me. As someone who lived in France for almost a year, it was surreal to see the video which was replayed over and over again on all the news stations.
Amid the initial reaction, I remembered a book I read in my teenage years. The book is called “Name of the rose” by Umberto Eco (and I highly recommend it). The reason why it came to mind was that the people that died in the book were also killed in the name of “comedy.” Laughter. Ridicule. As a teen, I couldn’t fully understand it. How is laughter so powerful? Is it really this powerful?
As I grew up, laughter is the only thing one has left. It is a cure for everything and without it, world is horrific and scary.
William of Baskerville: My venerable brother, there are many books that speak of comedy. Why does this one fill you with such fear?
Jorge de Burgos: Because it’s by Aristotle.
William of Baskerville: [Chasing after Jorge who runs with the Second Book of Poetics by Aristotle intending to destroy it] But what is so alarming about laughter?
Jorge de Burgos: Laughter kills fear, and without fear there can be no faith because without fear of the Devil, there is no more need of God.
William of Baskerville: But you will not eliminate laughter by eliminating that book.
(excerpt from the Name of the Rose)
There will always be cowards, murderers, terrorists who think they can kill the freedom. Freedom of laughter. Freedom of ridicule. Freedom of life. But we have to fight them back. #JesuisCharlie #CharlieHebdo
As a kid, the one person in my family I was proud of and looked up to was my uncle. His charm affected everyone in his presence; the ladies giggled and adored him, the men shook his hands and respected him. His obvious confidence carried him far in life. He not only made a lot of money, but traveled the world.
Fast forward two decades later, he moved away from us a while back so we hadn’t had the chance to see him too often. We lost contact with him but earlier in the year I had the chance to spend a few days with him on a family vacation….and boy did my perception of him change!
His sexist jokes, his expectations of my aunt to serve us because “it’s a woman’s job” and “women are better in the kitchen” remarks.. I mean, he made me mad. Was this really the uncle I looked up to? And then it all came back to me… The trips we did when I was a little girl- how my sister and I had to stay at home because “girls aren’t good at sports” as he enjoyed a round of tennis/skinning/baseball with my male cousins. How he always told me or my sister to go help our Mom or aunt in the kitchen as he enjoyed a little siesta after lunch…Or how we should learn how to cook so we can one day make a man happy….How he pushed for my male cousin to get a job and used his connections but wouldn’t help me even though I have more degrees and experiences.
I felt deeply disappointed after a few days with him and decided not to have as much contact with him. To think I am only good for something because I was born a woman is demeaning. It’s still a problem nowadays but I didn’t expect to find it in my own family. Did any of you experience a similar situation? What do you do when your role model turns out to be something completely else?
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