It does us no good to ignore the issues facing our times. As the year ends, perhaps we can find some reflection through a 2015 year in review and find perspective for greater solutions in the coming years.
The major news events of 2015 have a striking thread that runs through them. It was a year of attacks that shook us and brought underlying prejudices to light. It's been a year of bringing systemic problems blaring to the surface to be addressed.
Let's see if we can follow this thread to see the root cause of the challenges we face so we can address them where real change can take place.
As our world becomes more and more global with various cultures coming face to face, it brings a responsibility of how we relate in the world squarely in our hands or rather our mind.
The terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California remind us how quickly hate can shake the world.
The effects of terrorism are alarming, but the cause of hate doesn't happen overnight, it festers and permeates through followers.
After the Paris attacks, The Dalai Lama came forth to say, "We cannot solve this problem only through prayers... humans have created this problem. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place."
In order for solutions to arise, we have to understand what causes this very human problem.
In the case of terrorist attacks, the problem comes from a group of radical extremists that have hijacked a religion for their own agendas and politics.
What we're seeing through radicalized Islamists is a belief in fixed ideals and an attempt to defend and propagate those beliefs at all costs. This fixed belief system sparks a prejudice and hate for anything that threatens their belief about how life should be.
This minority group of radical Islamists is what's causing the influx of Syrian refugees, the majority of them muslim, escaping what is terrorizing their own land.
The loudest statements from Trump to ban Muslims (an entire culture and religion) is not exactly the sanest. But the approval ratings of his statements bring to light a simmering prejudice against muslims -- an Islamophobia that's been growing since 9/11.
But just as we can't call all Christians, fundamentalists, we can't call all Muslims, extremists.
So how about we address the problem where it actually is -- in the minds of the radicalized and soon to be radicalized -- in the prejudice which causes their violence against others and themselves.
Fighting prejudice with prejudice only continues a cycle of violence for years to come.
Sweeping generalizations from prejudice are the very seeds of hate that we abhor when we see the effects.
But when you see the seed, you know the place to act -- to unearth that seed of prejudice before it sows.
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel laureate, spoke up about Trump's plans saying, "If your intention is to stop terrorism, do not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it because it cannot stop terrorism. It will radicalize more terrorists." She continued, "Education, not discrimination, is the key to stopping terror."
While we defend our borders from outsiders, there is a fundamentalism in our own nation that threatens the peace of it's people.
We see this through the shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs based on anti-abortion ideals; the shooting in a Louisiana theatre based on extreme right-wing ideals; and a shooting in a historically black church in South Carolina based on white supremacist ideals.
Islamic extremists and American fundamentalists have a striking similarity -- the same root reason for their attacks.
These attacks are all based on beliefs in fixed ideals of how life should be and a prejudice against those who would differ -- the non-believers, the infidels or heathens that would threaten their ideals of how we should live.
Fixed belief and prejudice go hand in hand. If there is a fixed belief, it requires a wall to protect that fixed belief and weapons to propagate that fixed belief. That fixed belief becomes paramount to protect at all costs, at the cost of others, the cost of even their own lives and families.
Understanding Racial Bias
Guess what, we don't even have to look at extremists and fundamentalists to find the problem of prejudice operating in our societies.
Through numerous reports of racially biased police shootings coming to light since the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, we see a prevalent prejudice that's been submerged under a guise of political correctness.
Once again this prejudice stems from an attempt to maintain a fixed way of life, to maintain a racial divide, even after segregation was officially abolished decades ago.
We only have to look further into financial divides, opportunity divides, and even the biased judicial and prison systems to see the means of segregation continuing today.
Where ever there is prejudice you will find protest for basic human rights.
In 2015 the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum to become one of the top stories of the year with protests fueled by the deaths of Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, both at the hands of police officers.
Freddie Gray's death prompted riots erupting across Baltimore, shutting down the city.
Through non-violent protests, the Black Lives Matter movement shut down the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport right during the rush of holidays.
All of this continues to ring an alarm until the issue of prejudice is properly addressed.
If we really want some sense of security, we need to address the seeds of prejudice where ever it is found, within ourselves, society, and the world, in either group or side.
The world is becoming more and more globalized with multiple cultures crossing paths like never before. That trend is not going anywhere, it is on the rise.
How we relate with each other and how we raise each other in this globalized world is the question. Do we isolate ourselves behind thicker walls to protect our fixed view of life which inevitably brings prejudice? Or do we remain flexible with expanding awareness -- understanding that there is still much to learn about the world and humanity.
If we can really drop our prejudices, we can see our differences for what they are -- cultural differences, not human differences.
Then we can get to know better our neighbors across the street and through the world.
If we can connect with our core humanity, we'll find a much greater similarity within us and we may just find much greater solutions.
Questions, concerns, or ideas? Leave comments below.