Once upon a time in the early years of the 21st Century, two men armed with automatic weapons went into the offices of a satirical newspaper in Paris, and murdered 12 people.

One of the men told an interviewer, before they were both killed by the French police in a manner known as “suicide by cop” that they wanted to be remembered as martyrs for killing the cartoonists and journalists. But this did not happen.

Instead, the murdered cartoonists and journalists instantly became worldwide martyrs for the cause of free speech. The murderers became known for what they were: murderers.

After the senseless violent deaths of the cartoonists and journalists, creative and cultural boundaries were expanded, what the meaning of speech and outrageous thoughts could be widened and made more inclusive. The only limit that mattered was a lack of tolerance for intolerance, when it came to murdering human beings who used free expression and creativity to communicate.

Ongoing discussions and debates were held in the wake of the cartoonists and journalists free speech martyrs deaths. The world of online connections and communications moved forwards and backwards simultaneously.

Online communication moved forward because people saw once again how social media can be all about bringing people with planet-shifting ideas together, through difficult days and nights, in the best ways possible. Online communication moved backwards because people took a long, deep breath, and were even more grateful for the in person modes of connecting, and a new vibrant salon and cultural renaissance began. Human beings wanted to meet together in social gatherings to find a way forward, with love, creativity, compassion.

People with open minds and hearts the world over connected in deeper ways, and extreme fundamentalists with murder on their minds had their power lessening, month by month, year by year, and eventually, it diminished altogether. Fundamentalist murderers were eventually wiped out in the best way possible, by no longer having a reason to be. Children were no longer taught intolerance and hate for their neighbors because their neighbors thought a different way, or believed different stories. They began to grow up in a world where all stories were possible, or none were possible.

Cultures create their own stories, and many people within the culture believe or don’t believe what has been ingrained through centuries. Knowing when a belief system has gone too far became the work of everyone with each culture. If someone claim to be murdering an innocent person on behalf of god, that’s going too far. Humor had to find its footing again.

Humor and satire were viewed as the rightful modes of expression they always had been, and always would be. The sharing of humor is one of the main ways people rise above adversity, and bond, and become better people.

Humor is not contained by borders. Humor is a universal language. Humor and satire may not be to everyone’s taste, and will often be considered tasteless. Humor became an even more universal language after the murder of the free speech martyrs. It was made clear once again, finally, and forever, that humor is as fundamental to being human as breathing.

The world shifted when cartoonists and journalists were murdered so publicly and brutally and senselessly. In the early days of the 21st Century, people came together in understanding anew the power of the pen. And they rose up and smiled.