Each year has meanings and memories, some of those that are personal to each of us and those close to us. In 2015, my sister Mary and my brother Jack passed from this life into eternity and they will always be in my thoughts and prayers. May we each treasure our own memories, happy or sad, of the passing year.
There are also memories of the year that are shared by our society and by human civilization. 2015 was certainly a year of contrasts, some things that provided great hope and inspiration, some were evidence of horror and depravity. Some events could even be described as just plain weird.
Bloodshed caused by terrorist acts caused by extreme ideology became a growing reality and ominous threat this year, particularly from the "Islamic State" (aka ISIS, ISIL, etc.) Paris was attacked twice, in January and November, with great loss of life. The terror came to our shores in a big way with the attack in San Bernardino in December. And the people in the Middle East where this barbarism was spawned continue to suffer the most. The situation triggered a massive migration of people, posing the challenge to western societies how to discern those who are truly refugees while protecting their people from infiltration by possibly large numbers of terrorist agents and sympathizers.
Some acts of barbarism are more insidious, as we were reminded again this year by a series of undercover videos revealing the grotesque practices of Planned Parenthood (as if abortion were not horrific enough already). As long as these activities are permitted to go on and are even funded by our tax dollars, we have to ask how much more civilized are we than the brutal ISIS forces.
Not all the events of 2015 were so depraved or discouraging. Our expansion into the universe continued with some spectacular exploration. Pluto, Mars, Ceres and other worlds provided some spectacular scientific and visual surprises to our robotic explorers and the humans controlling them from Earth. Meanwhile, advances were made to enable human beings to expand themselves outward and to provide for future generations. Entrepreneurial companies SpaceX and Blue Origin demonstrated reusability of rocket stages, a critical step toward dramatically lowering the cost of space travel. And in a bipartisan action, Congress passed a commercial space bill that, among other provisions, recognizes claims on resources harvested from asteroids and other celestial bodies. So much for "limits to growth"!
The 2016 US presidential election has already seen a long run-up in 2015, producing its share of frivolity and weirdness, along with some enlightening moments. We should not let the trivialities distract us from the seriousness decisions we face in 2016. Things have gone seriously wrong as a politically correct fantasy world has been imposed on us. It's time to move decisively toward a culture of life and a new birth of freedom.
Happy New Year, everyone!