Would You Die For What You Believe?/#JeSuisCharlie

IMG_2023Tucked into a tiny basement in my small downtown is a coffee shop dripping with exquisite java and plenty of local color. I visit it whenever I want some really great coffee, which is frequently, because I have no talent for brewing the tasty beverage.

This weekend I was at the shop scarfing down a buttery scone and sipping my hometown blend of joe when two young men sauntered in and asked the barista to whip them up some cappuccinos. While waiting for their coffee, I overheard them discussing whether or not they would be willing to die for their beliefs,

As I eavesdropped on the pair, I realized their conversation had been prompted by the terrorist attack that killed twelve people at Charlie Hebdo, the weekly newspaper in Paris that had caricatured the Prophet Muhammed.

Still animatedly debating the question after they received their coffee, they climbed the steps and exited the shop.

I surreptitiously eyed the other costumers as I sat at my little table. They didn’t seem to be bothered by the boys’ exchange at all, but I couldn’t get their conversation out of my mind. The question thrummed through my head, over and over. “Would I die for my beliefs?”

The more I thought of it, the more indignant I became. Why should anyone have to die for thinking differently than another person about any subject? Isn’t the world wiser now? Haven’t we learned anything? Why haven’t we been able to eradicate hatred, bigotry and intolerance?

If I can live side by side with people of different faiths, politics, genders, colors, and beliefs with no problem, why can’t everyone else?

In my humble opinion, all anyone need do to peacefully co-exist with others in any society is to cultivate an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

Wouldn’t it be nice if future generations never had to discuss the question, “Would I die for what I believe?” over a cup of coffee.