When I opened my iPad this morning the first thing I saw was a photograph of the demonstration in Paris. Over one million people had crowded into the city to join in denouncing violence and supporting freedom. This outpouring of emotion wasn't limited to Paris, it spread across the country and across the globe, where people from every continent found ways to memorialize the dead and condemn the killings.
Many of these people carried signs declaring "Je Suis Charlie," or "Nous Sommes Charlie." The words were ubiquitous on signs, on tee-shirts, on television, on electronic reader boards. As early as Friday evening over two million tweeters had expressed their sorrow or anger using the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.
I admit I am touched by this multilingual, multinational chorus. But what does it all mean? Can a million-person demonstration cause terrorists to re-evaluate their tactics? Not likely. Will they reject violence because it makes so many unhappy? Of course not. Hatred, deeply radicalized hatred, will not disappear because we march; we will certainly suffer it again.
But let's also acknowledge that it's a positive and wonderful thing to see so many people decrying the shocking attack on both freedom and persons. Let's applaud the idea that yes, maybe we are all Charlie, maybe we areall Michael Brown, maybe we are all Berliners. And maybe we are all One.