Hi, My name is Dave and I’m a cartoonist. While I work in a lot of different art forms and media, cartooning will probably always be my “go-to” and there is a reason or that. Much to the chagrin of some of my artist friends, I am not a huge fan of letting people read their own meanings into my work. For me it’s all about story, and as such, the combination of words and pictures of cartoons/comics is ideal. Also few things are more powerful at raising awareness and calling out injustice than a well drawn cartoon.

When I read about the murders at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, by fundamentalist Muslim terrorists I was outraged and I still am. I find the actions of these people reprehensible. Terrorism, the murder of innocents, kidnapping children, beheadings and the list goes on. I’m growing more than a little tired of hearing these stories almost every day, and while I know these people are not representative of all Muslims, I am disgusted by actions like this most recent massacre.

Then I saw some of the cartoons appearing in Charlie Hebdo. Let me be clear, this doesn’t change my opinion of the massacre even a little bit, but I do understand how a Muslim would be angry. If someone drew cartoons about Jesus like that, I would be quite angry. Now to be clear, I would be poison penned, drawing opposing cartoons, encouraging boycotts, angry which is not to be confused with murderous act of terror angry. I get the anger but not that actions. I will never get the actions.

Someone once said, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” I have always believed this to be true and if that is the case, then those of us who wield pens have got to be responsible. Those of us tasked with the responsibility of wielding our pens in the name of Christ must be even more responsible. Taking cheap shots is not an acceptable method of discourse for believers. We’ve got to be better than that. We’ve been tasked with the golden rule for one thing. I should never draw something about Mohammed that I wouldn’t want someone to draw about Jesus. I really don’t think it is okay to mock someone else’s god (or his prophet in the case of Mohammed).

The actions of groups like Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Quaeda, etc. make them fair game for cartoonists calling them out on their actions. Of course, I am not sure this is wise, first off because these groups have not shown an ability to laugh at themselves, to put it mildly, but secondly, as believers, I think we are called to something better. Mocking someone’s actions is easy, changing them is hard. I’ve always said Christians need to spend less time talking about what we’re agains and more time talking about who we’re for. The solution to all the world’s problems is simple, one word, Jesus! I understand anger, I have drawn in anger more times than I can count, but before we hit send, or post or publish, maybe we need to ask the questions, “Does this honor God?” and “Will this draw others to Him?”

I grieve for the families of the victims of this latest act of terror. The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo did not justify this level of response, nor do they ever. And yes I know, the problem of terrorism will not be solved by a cartoon, but I still hold to my faith in the power of the Gospel.

What can we do to make things better?

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