This new year is beginning with some very important issues that need to be discussed by all of us.
The shooting in Paris of the Charlie Hebdo staff due to their publication of satire that has offended some people raises the issue of free speech to one of urgency. We can all - at least all of us who believe in the rule of law and the need for peaceful societies - abhor the violence used by terrorists to impose their will.
But beyond that issue is the very real one of the boundaries of civilized discourse should lie.
Good manners are essential to a society of free citizens. But is self-censorship appropriate or even healthy?
Let's face it - we all fear offending anyone through ignorance or passionate debate. And that fear has obviously infected our entire society, from each one of us up to and including the so-called 'free' media.
Should offense be taken in an genuine debate over anything? Or should religions be off-limits for discussion? How about politics? We have seen the depths of ugly speech here in our own country during these last elections. Offense is given purposefully in order to arouse the passions of everyone on both sides of the issues.
But passions lead to actions.
Is there any way to have a passionate debate without causing offense?
Should the threat of causing offense keep us silent?
Should the threat of violence silence us?
Weighty issues for a new year's debate.
Here's something to rest your eyes on:
Land Where the Palm Tree Grows
Made of Light
All the Necessary