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Another challenging year lies ahead

The Christmas festival, which still has that special impact on people around the world with its message of peace, offers a much needed pause to reflect on values for living that affect all people regardless of race, creed or religion. One can only hope that the new year will bring more than thousands of words for and against this or that, with little change in a troubled world struggling to find understanding and compassion instead of divisiveness, bitterness and hate.

Even as this is being written, innocent people are dying in different parts of the world at the hands of those who put no value on life, including their own. Suicide bombers, and others who engage in criminal activity knowing their demise will be the ultimate conclusion to acts of terror, remain a security concern for all freedom-loving people.

The greatest challenge of all is to find ways to prevent a potentially good mind from falling victim to the belief that the problems of the world can be solved by killing people who disagree with an ideology of dominance with no respect for freedom or a system of justice.

Not much is expected to change, with the Middle East and parts of Africa locked in bloody confrontations between fanatical extremists and those who desire peace and freedom.

In addition to these problems that run from year to year, nations are trying to unite in efforts to tackle climate change that some experts feel threatens future generations. Whether or not any action taken will be truly effective will take time to determine.

Meanwhile, millions of immigrants displaced through raging civil wars have created a new problem that could be a challenge when countries willing to help are caught up in having to assist people in great need despite cultural differences.

The issue has set off explosive exchanges in the American Presidential election campaigns, with verbal encounters over whether certain religious groups with Muslim connections should be barred from entering the country.

Apart from condemnation on a global scale for suggesting such a move, many Americans hold the view that the core foundation values in the United States Constitution would be violated in adopting such a scheme.

Most Americans believe it is wrong to punish Muslims across the board for acts of terrorism carried out by extremists, and it could damage good relations between Americans and law-abiding members of the Muslim community.

How this will play out as America gears up for a new administration remains to be seen.

Here in our homeland Bermuda, there is considerable political bickering over a range of issues, ranging from trying to rebuild our economy, creating more jobs, improving the education system, cost of health for the elderly, violent crime often associated with illegal drug activity, and concern about the foundation of our family value structure.

Most of these problems will require far more than clever soundbites or political posturing over how to move forward in a manner that keeps good core values on the front burners, even when popular lifestyles demand otherwise. It should be understood that having the right to an opinion in no way makes that opinion right.

Democracy in its true sense still offers an opportunity to deal with highly sensitive matters affecting community life and, used wisely with respect, is perhaps the best approach to resolving highly emotional issues. The easiest thing in the world is to find fault, but actually coming up with solutions is a totally different ballgame along life's journey. In the new year, there will be much to think about, and talk about, but keeping cooler heads could mean the difference between stalemate and progress.

Time to pause: Christmas is a chance for us to reflect on our common values, regardless of race, creed or religion

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Published December 17, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 17, 2015 at 12:56 am)

Another challenging year lies ahead

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