The situation reminds me of the last three decades of the last century when the IRA carried out a bombing campaign in the UK. “Sleepers” infiltrated the British population as part of small, anonymous cells, each waiting for the command to activate their plan to kill. I remember well, when I lived and worked in London for a number of years, the importance of constant vigilance and how automatically we looked out for anything suspicious. It was part of normal life.
IRA terrorism exists still, though on a much smaller scale, but the principles of the modus operandi has become global: once again fanatics are living in towns and cities in every continent, hiding under a disguise of normality, having been radicalised in situ or moving there with the deliberate intent to destroy what they despise.
The large population movements brought about by war, desperation, or a desire for more is a gift of an opportunity for such people, and this is becoming very apparent. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we all are touched by the conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.
So, we are confronting a new reality for life in which increased vigilance and state protection are necessary, and in which an act of terrorism near to home is possible at any time. Additionally, we have to decide if and how far seekers from other lands are welcomed into ours, knowing as we do now that while the peaceful majority deserve all our help, a minority of applicants wish to cause us harm.
While world leaders and security services have an important role in dealing with this new reality, we have a part to play too, by watching what is going on around us and reporting, appropriately, disturbing anomalies, by not judging people from other faiths and cultures as being dangerous, by helping the victims of terrible wars as best we can, by fighting for fairness, and by enjoying life as much as possible, but with discernment.
The state of our world is chaotic, but over the gloom there is hope. The more people are forced to be aware of the folly of war and the ubiquity of terrorism, of the inadequacy of modern day politicians and the failure of democracy, the sooner the mass of the global population will demand radical change to the status quo. A heartfelt wish made by many can move mountains.
It is time to wake up, to hope, and when you are ready, to pray.