2015 did not leave behind much of a legacy upon which we can build our new year’s hopes. But the future cannot be built upon hopelessness, nor can it be built upon fantasies – we have to face the sad realities of the world as it is, and seek concrete solutions that can enable a global restoration.
The sad summary of the past year is that we humans are still very prone to violence be it in the Middle East or the American mid-west; the Nigerian countryside or Parisian cafés; at the workplace or at home. Deep down there are core human weaknesses inherited from Cain: jealousy, frustration, racism, “might is right,” etc. What is heartbreaking is that religion is being abused as a source of motivation in many acts of violence.
In the Middle East, the region’s map is being redrawn in favor of a power-hungry few. The situation seems clear to outsiders: the killers are Muslims (at least this is how they identify them- selves), the victims are overwhelmingly Muslims, and Islam is the root cause. What a win-win situation for the beneficiaries! Islam is being slaughtered at the hands of some cannibals, while millions of Muslims are being killed for no discernible reason – other than being the victims of a fight over the energy sources they happen to be living on.
Violence is not only a reality in the Middle East. Mass shootings in the US have almost be- come a daily item in the news, as an average of one mass murder takes place every day. Thou- sands of people are being killed or wounded. In fact, far more Americans are killed at home than at war. Age-old American problems, like racism, have played a role in some of the shootings, including the tragic massacre at a black church in Charleston. Women remain the overwhelming victims of mass murders (81% of the victims are women and children), and are also the major victims of violence in the home.
There’s no need to give further details on the scale of violence around the world. The solution is not easy, but it is also not as difficult as it appears. It is a matter of rephrasing our perspective, just as in Philip Clayton’s approach to science and religion. A renowned theologian and philosopher, Dr. Clayton offers to reformulate these two major concepts from “science or religion” to “science and religion” which can pave the way for “peacemakers” who “prioritize partnership over war” and will “develop constructive relationships.” Dr. Clayton’s three solutions can serve as a starting point in our efforts to solve all sorts of conflicts around the world.
The “Like Dissolves Like” piece in this issue speaks of a universal rule in which matters with only similar chemical properties can dissolve in the other to make a uniformity. Perhaps, this is a prescription to our global problems – if we humans can realize we have more similarities than differences, and that our concerns and interests are common, then we can dissolve in one another and become one global community.
The first step toward that level of awareness is self-interrogation. We must review our actions before blaming others. That is a new year’s resolution we can all agree on.