As 2014 ended challenges lay ahead

I’ll try not to be too negative. After all, after a year like that, the world needs all the good vibes it can get.

2014 will be mercifully over in a few days. But not the terrible state of human affairs it exposed for the whole, wired world to see in all its tragic brutality.

I think it’s fair to say this is indeed the season, give or take a few days, most people of truly good will, conscience, and intention celebrate the opportunity to do the best they can to live better lives and help make the world a better place.

Those of us who have a moral compass that’s real and sincere – and let’s give thanks here and now and believe that’s the vast majority of us – have seen proof again in 2014 that there are special people among us. They are people who will risk their lives to do what’s right to help others, close to home or far away, who are in urgent need of help. They will do it to save a life, or many lives, and even help avert a global tragedy. Such people – doctors, nurses, and others with vital skills – went to countries in west Africa in 2014 to help local heroes in those countries treat thousands of people stricken by the deadly, frightening Ebola virus. As I write this there are hopeful signs, despite the painfully slow international, bureaucratic response, that a global epidemic of catastrophic proportions has been prevented, thanks to the efforts of good people.

Other good people responded to the human suffering caused by the brutal civil war in Syria by risking their lives to help. They included journalists who obviously felt strongly the world needed to be told that story, and humanitarian workers, who paid the ultimate price of their lives in the most brutal way at the hands of very bad people.

To my mind that is the big “story” of 2014, though I hesitate to call it that because the use of that commonly used journalistic term seems to trivialize the reality the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) represents.

Such acts of horrible brutality on an even bigger scale have happened before, and not that long ago. The Holocaust, the mass-murder of millions of Jews and others deemed socially and racially inferior by the Nazis before and during the Second World War, is the obvious example.

But never before in the history of the world have so many people seen it happening virtually before their eyes as a result of the computer-aged, high-tech, information revolution. Most recently, an Amnesty International report on the Internet extensively covered the extent to which women in parts of Iraq controlled by ISIL have been sexually brutalized by that murderous, terrorist group.

Canada is part of a U.S.-led coalition of nations that was formed to fight ISIL after it took over much of northern Iraq and essentially announced its emergence into infamy by broadcasting the horrific be-headings of western hostages on-line. Canada has sent six F-18 jet fighters to join the aerial bombardment of ISIL targets. It also has sent a contingent of military personnel to help train Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the ground. Yet, many military experts agree ISIL can only be beaten by a powerful “boots-on-the-ground” military coalition, something U.S. President Barack Obama is dead-set against.

I have often said there must be a better way to deal with such international, criminal terrorist activities, other than repeating the cycle of war over and over again.

The criminal acts of ISIL now, and those of any other similar criminal organization in the future, require a police-action response from all members of the international community that believe in the rule of law.

I suppose that implicit definition narrows the field of countries down quite a bit. Would Russia qualify after its takeover of the Crimea, and continued deceitful involvement in support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine?

But the world cannot stand by and let ISIL think it can get away with its crimes; otherwise, we’ll soon be in even bigger trouble.

 Originally published in The Sun Times in December, 2014

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