The Deeper Human Conflict Revealed by "Je Suis Charlie"

I suspect the public response to the Charlie Hebdo Massacre--reported to have involved 4 million people--may become a signature moment in human history.

Surely many of those who chose to declare "Je Suis Charlie" were people of faith, supporting a newspaper that is openly atheistic, whose main targets of satire are religious leaders of all faiths.

The massacre was an example of some fanatic Muslims taking revenge on the insult to their spiritual leader.

In defiance, Charlie Hebdo's next issue satirized Mohammad as well as the Pope, thus not only once again baiting extreme Muslins like al Qaeda, but the French Catholic community as well. Whereas "Charlie" normally produces only 60,000 copies, this issue reportedly sold five million copies.

The situation is ironic. The satirical cartoons of the icon of one group led them to kill members of Charlie, but that act led millions of followers of other groups to support Charlie, even though Charlie satirizes their icons.

The profound conclusion must be that people of all faiths share something deeper with Charlie, something that transcends atheism and insults of spiritual icons.

Whatever the five million may believe about a higher power, they all share a deeper belief in human rights, including rights of free speech and free press.

Human rights might be an emerging religion and global unifier.

Religions that were formed centuries ago must constantly make sure their principles and governance continue to be sensitive to a civilization that is changing.

Judaism was born over 3,000 years ago, and faithfulness to a set of sacred laws which served as their "Bible" created a strong community. Jews considered Jerusalem their home; unable to secure it, they became a nomadic people.

Judaism's superb discipline, meant only for Jews, often made them successful and sometimes resented and persecuted, reaching a peak with the holocaust in WWII. In 1947, the United Nations granted all the Jews land in Palestine, including Jerusalem. In 1948, Jews defeated Arabian forces to secure Israel as a country, and has done so several times since.

The powerful influence of Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism in Asia today, introduced 2,500 years ago, can perhaps be attributed to the lack of conflict in their founding and development. These faiths were generally never fought over, allowing for a maximum acceptance of their philosophies.

Christianity was introduced 2,000 years ago by a Jewish Rabbi named Jesus, in a Roman empire that sometimes crucified Christians. Its history mirrors its Bible, first the Old Testament, which tends to picture an angry God, and then as Christians matured, the New Testament, which features the story of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer.

In 1095, the crusades began to use force to try to regain Jerusalem for Christianity, an effort that would continue unsuccessfully for 200 years. Today Christians, except for extremists who might use violence (like bombing an abortion clinic) have grown to honor human rights in expressing their beliefs.

Unfortunately, those of the Islamic faith are behind these other faith timetables. Mohammad established Islam in 632, after an eight-year war between Mecca and Medina. He believed he was chosen through Angel Gabriel to make Islam God's way for all humans, and he provided the Quran to spell out how followers should live. He expected them to convert the world, including eliminating non-believers if necessary.

That decree reflected the conflicted world at that time, much like the Christians trying to take Jerusalem by force. Today, society has not only experienced the far graver destruction of war, but also a deeper respect for the individual, beginning with the Magna Carta in 1225.

The Magna Carta began the idea that those who are ruled have the same rights as those who rule. So today, a true gentleman or lady has a genuine respect for the rights of another human, regardless of religion, status or anything else.

Hence, since Charlie Hebdo published insensitive and sacrilegious cartoons of Mohammad and the Pope last week, we can well understand the searing insults that devout Muslims and Catholics feel. But no matter how deeply they have been hurt, we should be reassured that most have the character to accept this as the cost of respecting individual rights.

The opponents to human progress today are those who never accepted the Magna Carta, who believe they know best for us, and use any means to establish their authority, including fear, even terror and killing. In Saudi Arabia, a man was recently sentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison for criticizing clerics. That is justice pre-Magna Carta 1225.

The battle isn't between religions today. It's between human rights and those who don't accept the Magna Carta.