We’re all in this together

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We’re all in this together

What a strange, tumultuous five days it has been here in Paris. It is no exaggeration to say that I’ve never experienced anything like it, here or anywhere.

We’ve gone from stunned horror and outrage to raw fear and anxiety to awe and amazement and much, much more within such a brief time frame, beginning with the violent, murderous attack at Charlie Hebdo around midday on Wednesday and culminating with the magnificent marches throughout France (and elsewhere in the world) yesterday (and Saturday). In between, on Thursday and Friday, there was more murder and mayhem. Those are the terrible facts, and because of them the lives of the victims and their families are changed forever, as are the lives of us all, each and every one of us.

And yet, something unthinkably marvelous has arisen from something unthinkably horrific. What I have found so astounding is what can be called a spontaneous « awakening » to the oneness of all beings by much of the population: Je suis Charlie.

I saw it yesterday in the people packed with me in the Métro on the way to the march. The crowd was quiet and solemn, soft and dignified, without drama, yet fully alive and aware of the moment and the event, the place and time and extraordinary circumstance in the middle of a Sunday afternoon in early January. There was something both transcendent and grounded about it.

The notion of « Je suis Charlie » is, from a purely intellectual perspective, incomprehensible: How can anyone « be » Charlie (Hebdo)? But this is not by any means an intellectual statement. It’s a logic-defying « spiritual » view that no one can define but everyone can experience; in fact, any attempted definition only serves to deflate and divide, while the « je suis » formulas (je suis Charlie, je suis police, je suis Jewish, je suis Muslim, etc.) are defiantly, subversively all-inclusive. They « elevate » the infinitely small and personal individual to the infinitely great and impersonal whole in which we are all one.

Whether you marched yesterday or not, whether you say Je suis Charlie or not, whether you « agree » or « disagree » with whatever position, you are a part of that infinitely great and impersonal whole. And within that whole, the only thing we share are our differences, in all their splendid (im)perfection! We’re all in this together.

As with all things, this Je suis Charlie experience of oneness will change. The dynamic of unity and peacemaking will, alas, fade. But that so many have experienced this non-separation, however minutely and fleetingly, will not be without consequence.

By | 2017-04-04T06:58:14+00:00 janvier 12th, 2015|Textes|9 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. nomen nescio 31 janvier 2015 at 23 h 45 min - Reply

    we live in a society that is outerly well
    better then a lot of places and times before
    we should be happy
    but still a lot of us are depressed, a lot of suicide, a lot of medicines to quickly cure the unhappiness, a lot of therapists and psychiaters needed,
    for we don’t like to hear the sadness of the neighbour, the family, even the friends
    we just want the happy story
    we only like the good part
    the rest gets locked up under the ground
    with the key-concept of normality
    where it patiently grows until it explodes
    so we go metro, boulot, dodo just seemingly selectingly happy
    more and more covered in well dressed lonelyness
    having it all together
    widening the gap
    inside ourselves
    = outside ourselves

    just longing to be happy
    just longing for " the other "
    that is right before us
    = that is right in us
    so close we can smell it
    hard not to stumble over it


  2. little white cloud 25 janvier 2015 at 20 h 26 min - Reply

    There is something bizarre about the situation

    The ones who have the insight they cannot make images of the spiritual/divine
    ( read: who cannot identify anything with it)
    ( = god is everything – and even beyond that concept)
    they kill when others do make images of it ???????

    while in our culture one does make images of the spiritual/god
    there is a personal god
    some even think he created the world in 7 days ….

  3. little white cloud 19 janvier 2015 at 10 h 06 min - Reply

    "everything is allways perfect as it is"
    Byron Katie


    "indignez -vous!"
    Stéphan Hessel

  4. little white cloud 17 janvier 2015 at 19 h 47 min - Reply

    it could be interesting to do the work of Byron Kate on this.
    " to argue with reality – is to argue with God "

  5. wild primula 17 janvier 2015 at 19 h 28 min - Reply

    an eye for an eye leads to total blindness

  6. little lake 17 janvier 2015 at 19 h 24 min - Reply

    dear Sensei,

    This is why i felt it like a blitz-course zen.
    although i cannot know from here it felt that way.

    What i can say from here: here was a lot of identification/one point of view/ agains the other – involved in the people who outed " je suis Charlie".
    And to me there is no identification in oneness. It is the still point from where one can see both sides of the coin – no judgement. No identification.

    I am told ( i did not do research on it) that in some cultures – like native indians in USA – the one who was most connected to the whole was the chief. He could lead his people in true peace.
    Over here we saw there could be missuse of this by people who pretend to be connected but were not. So we separated the spiritual and the civil. And how could we not after Descartes said " je pens donc je suis" and our whole western culture got based on this. (Calling it enlightenment! in my language!)
    So i guess we lost true freedom long ago. But we invested in another one. That is also important. But can not replace the first one …

    So my heroes are not people who invest in polarisation.

    I know when i come up for something very strongly – when i look inside i often find there is an other reason i am "malcontent" under it.
    I guess that is not the case for me alone.

  7. little lake 13 janvier 2015 at 2 h 50 min - Reply

    killing 12 people because of cartoons
    = all aggression – with a specific easy to point face

    some cartoons
    = a lot of mental aggression –

    people who get less chanses because of their race or faith
    = a lot of daily aggression without a face

    speculation on the market/bourse that put whole economies in crises of whole of continents with people in poverty and misery because of it
    = a lot of aggression without a face

    whole societies of consumentism patterns which promis happiness and make people into addicts just to make economy grow
    = a lot of subtle hidden aggression without a face

    societies who make publicity /degrade people to objects, to be used like products, to be consumed, and act as if it is normal
    = a lot of hidden and most subtle aggression without a face because of mixed with our deepest human longings

    societies where success, being on top, in control, in power is the only goal – and produces examples with no or pour moral / connection to the whole
    = a lot of aggression without a face

    etc etc…

    only connection can heal this

    my hero is Mandela
    for he saw all the points of view – and he was bigger than them all
    and this is why he could lead people away from aggression – unconnectedness in a true way.

  8. wild primula 13 janvier 2015 at 0 h 04 min - Reply

    when it is truly spiritual it is

    je suis charlie
    je suis achmed
    je suis coulibalie
    je suis – if forgot the name of the other terrorist


    it is the oneness of the whole picture
    all the suffering – all the isight that flows out of it…
    compassion for all of it


  9. Christine 12 janvier 2015 at 21 h 29 min - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Amy.
    I can relate a lot to what you’re writing about, and although I did not come to Paris yesterday but followed the events on television, this special ambiance was palpable. I enjoyed switching between french and german channels and to see their different ways of reporting which was very interesting… (my preference was for a german channel that had invited an author whose statements I appreciated a lot)
    To express my anger and sadness about these shocking murders and my solidarity with those who have been murdered (independent of the "why") and their families, I had put a "JE SUIS CHARLIE" on my coat which led to sereval nice exchanges in the streets and elsewhere with people I knew and didn’t know before.

    That you think the glimpse of unity we all shared these last days "will not be without consequence" gives me some comfort and hope that this cruel killing of several lives has not only been terrorism.

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