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Rather than acting like third-graders and calling each other names, why not actually discuss the policies themselves?

Why not have a discussion about the gigantic issues facing our society, such as whether we want the government to control our lives and the lives of everyone around us, as opposed to the original vision for this country, of individual independence and self-determination?

Many do not want such discussions to take place because people will be forced to actually think about their true beliefs, rather than being manipulated for the political purposes of others.

If we are to thrive, we must be able to see the big-picture issues and not get bogged down with superficial, peripheral problems. The direction of our country is a very big deal, and if we don’t have a serious discussion about it, the nature of our society will change by default.

I am very grateful that God gave us racial variety. Who would want to go to the National Zoo if every animal was a Thompson’s gazelle?

Who would visit the national aquarium if every fish was a goldfish? Who would want to get up in the morning if everybody looked exactly like them?

In an episode of “The Twilight Zone” many years ago, a very beautiful and smart young woman was regarded as unsuitable for society. It was revealed at the end of the episode that everyone else was quite ugly, which, for that society, was the norm.

They judged the woman harshly because her external appearance was different. Obviously, creator Rod Sterling was ahead of his time with his social commentary.

Maybe 2014 can be a new beginning when we can stop judging people based on superficial characteristics.

We will know that America has made substantial social progress when black Americans are not expected to adhere to any particular political philosophy, just as white American do not have a prescribed political doctrine to which they must adhere.

Fortunately, we get to choose whether we are going to use the magnificent gray matter that sits between our ears as opposed to our skin color to determine who we are and our course of action.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.