I guess I would generally describe myself as a long-term optimist. I may be pessimistic about certain aspects of my own little world, but I have found that either way in the long run things often have not turned out as badly as I might have earlier predicted.
Right now, however, as a result of what has been growing without check in the last very few years, I have started to ask around about just how safe we are, and what does the longer term hold in store for the generation or three that has never experienced the devastations of war? Of course there are far too many people who, as a result of civil strife or who have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, already know what wars can bring – particularly to innocent bystanders. But the majority of people have lived in relative peace since 1945.
The Arab Spring was viewed with some concern initially and treated with caution, but it was not a Pan Arabian-Peninsula movement. Rather it was a reflection of and reaction to years of pent up feelings against corrupt dictatorships and cronysim, and it was confined country by country. Since the outbreak of the movement in 2010 some Arab leaders have changed (sometimes more than once in the same country), and there have been ongoing riots in other countries but it is hard to see what has yet changed fundamentally for the better in terms of democracy and stability.
The outside world has kind of focused on these "Arab Spring" related issues, together with the desire to bring foreign troops out of earlier confrontations in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result the more extremist elements in our midsts have been given some breathing space to consolidate by re-grouping, re-arming and regressing!! In other words, in the case of the last element, the extremists are reverting to a form of Islam that really has no place in the civilised world - and it seems these are also the thoughts of much more learned scholars and relevant experts than me.
The build up of these worrying elements has been slow and, until recently, quiet as a result of which the world was rather surprised by the "sudden" emergence and success of ISIS and the devastation it has caused so far. The specifically anti-Christian edicts in Iraq, together with the treatment of women has brought barbarity and irrational thought to the region.
But it is not just in the Middle East; it's also Boko Haram in Nigeria and pockets in other countries where momentum is currently building, partly as a result of poverty, a lack of education, and an inability to get work and earn money.
The trouble is, while these things may not currently affect many of us, the world is changing and if we don't react, and if we are saying "it can't happen to us" - think again.
And this is why – it is not just a question of the need to defeat these extreme groups – but it will be the aftermath when the foreign extremists recruited from countries like Britain return to their home countries and try to impose their will on someone else’s culture. No wonder that UKIP is doing quite well in Britain as is the Front National in France, despite the fact they both seem to spend much time extracting their feet from their mouths.
Add to this, in recent weeks there has been the “mistaken” shooting down of a civil airliner as a result of separatist action in Ukraine. There has been the pain and devastation created in Gaza where yes, agreed, Hamas is a venomous snake that needs putting in a cage with its fangs removed, but the number of innocent people caught in the bombing by Israel is appalling. The revival of the Taliban, with all their warped sanctimonius and "Middle Ages" practices in Afghanistan all added together makes it clear we are reaching a state of anarchy. Pleas for common sense, broken cease fire agreements all add fuel to the flames. Largely regional, and divided down religious lines - even intra religious lines i.e.Sunni vs Shia - we are nevertheless not so well positioned today to keep the potential problems contained, and to deal with them.
Flying is becoming potentially dangerous for many more people, indiscriminate edicts affecting people who have so far been used to having a choice may eventually have a backlash and the possibility of bombing innocent people in the course of their everyday lives are all becoming far too real.
But what's missing here? Action from world leaders - yes, it would seem so, perhaps in the interest of not losing business (or votes?). But for me what is really missing is any word of condemnation from important Arab leaders. It is a plea I have made before, and yes, there have been offers from sensible Muslim community leaders - but it is the leaders of countries who need to stand up and be counted and condemn these acts of barbarity, and lack of common sense.
The Commonwealth Games have just been held in Glasgow, Scotland - and one of the more enduring sights? A Mullah at a conference being followed onto the podium by a Rabbi, and shaking hands with each other as they passed. This needs to be expanded - massively, but it's not going to happen is it?
The way things are going I think we will be in for a few years, perhaps decades, of trouble unless there are some strong people with the ability, charisma, leadership skills, determination and drive to deal with the issues and ask the questions - "what on earth are we doing to each other - and why?"
Today is the Anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. We must never forget the sacrifices our forbears made for our benefit, and we must not let the potential for wanton desctruction by over zealous, bigots ever return.