By Michael A. Morris | michael@atljewishtimes.com

Happy Chanukah! This is certainly an enjoyable time of the year. Thanksgiving, Chanukah (and gifts), winter break, New Year’s, and all of it with family. There is a lot for which we in Atlanta should be thankful. I could dwell on that, but instead I want to offer our community a challenge.

As we look around our nation and the world, we see serious issues creating mounting pressure rather than credible solutions being offered to abate conflicts. I have heard many people suggest we live in times unparalleled from the past.

Michael Morris

Michael Morris

That may not be the case, but that doesn’t abrogate our responsibility to create solutions. As examples, I have no doubt that during the Civil War our community, and all of America, thought things could not get worse. World War II represents the largest concerted world effort ever (and is responsible for more deaths than possibly all other wars combined in human history). During the Cold War, we in America lived with the fear of nuclear annihilation.

We do, however, face many serious challenges. We live in a time when the most aggressive enemy of America (because of our personal liberty and democratic values) is on a defined path to build nuclear weapons. What makes this threat different from the threat during the Cold War is that Iran prefers mutual destruction over life and coexistence.

If that were not enough, we live in a time when professors on hundreds of college campuses are teaching anti-capitalistic values (think “Atlas Shrugged,” greed is bad), anti-democratic values (our form of government is unfair to many segments of our population), and opposition to freedom of speech as one-sided and reserved for the underprivileged. Anti-Semitism is so rampant on campus that it has virtually become acceptable, and administrators and professors (and many Americans) believe in a moral equivalency between protecting one’s citizens and using suicide bombers to defend a point of view.

Murderers are killing police officers in record numbers, and rioters are standing behind these felons with vigor. Over 40 U.S. murders are perpetrated each day. Countless killings are prevented by police each day. Yet our society indicts, by media and political leadership, two or three killings by police officers each year and remains silent about the 95 percent that are justified. This trend of antagonism toward our police force is unsustainable.

Like Passover, if that were all, it would be enough, but we are fighting a war against several groups of Islamic fundamentalists who want nothing less than our obliteration. They hide behind innocent civilians. They recognize no borders or country’s sovereignty. They kill civilians, women, children, journalists, medics, anyone.

Some of the less violent entities (less radical than, say, Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran), such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have made it clear that while they may not take up sword against us or terrorize us, they are rooted in the concept of a worldwide Muslim caliphate (offering submission, conversion or death to nonbelievers).

We also live in a time when a double-digit percentage of Americans lack sufficient employment to feed themselves or their families. Most of us recognize that the unemployment rate does not accurately describe underemployment or reflect the people who have given up seeking employment.

Finally, we live in a time when a significant portion of Americans do not trust the intentions and integrity of our president — very different from disagreeing with his policies. This is one of the reasons the presidential race has begun so early and is packed with passion and divisiveness.

I could go on (immigration/securing our borders, BDS, health care reform, gun laws), but I think you get the point.

Here is my challenge to you. As you take the next few weeks to enjoy time with family and recharge, instead of just listening to the news and offering your opinions, delve into the facts. Learn about one or two of the serious problems facing America. Then take your knowledge one step further.

Figure out how you can make an impact. Determine how you can become part of the solution. Our problems are well defined. But solutions are scarce, and a common-sense approach is not self-evident.

I hope that your Atlanta Jewish Times can offer perspectives to help. I also hope that your paper covers the local flavor of being Jewish in Atlanta. Happy Chanukah, happy holidays, and enjoy health and happiness at home with family.