Why? That is the big question on the lips of politicians, media pundits and ordinary people today. Why are young people being groomed and radicalised to throw in their lot with the barbaric ideology of Islamic extremism. It is a supremely important question because unless an answer is found and acted upon hope for the future of our society is bleak indeed.
And yet the answer is staring them in the face if they only had eyes to see. Idealism is one of the most precious virtues of the young, they cannot survive without it They demand visions where their elders are content to dream dreams. Of no age group is the proverb more relevant that “where there is no vision the people perish.”
But what has our Western Society to offer – 24 hour supermarkets, glitzy shopping precincts, television reality shows, soaps and talent competitions, interrupted with adverts for luxuries they do not need and cannot afford, or a national lottery promising £millions to someone else ?
The United States proclaims democracy as the ultimate panacea but what is that worth if this is the best it can offer a sick world.
Our Government seeks to inspire with “British values” : respect for the law, respect for your neighbour, tolerance of different opinions, freedom of expression etc. etc. All these things are important and precious. They are essential for a just and peaceful society. They are a necessary foundation on which to build. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and when the idealistic young see the pudding that this recipe has so far produced can it compete with the illusion of utopia that the Islamic State promises to offer. To return to the foundation metaphor, do they see a derelict building site because the capital to finish is exhausted and compare it to the magnificent, shiny edifice of Islamic State delusions ?
There is a vision that is worthy of the idealism of our young people. It is the vision of a society built on the values of Jesus of Nazareth. Values that cross every barrier of race, nationality, culture, social status, sex, sexual orientation, politics, religion or whatever else separates God’s children to bring people together in friendship, love, compassion and forgiveness. That is a vision worth living, and if need be dying for. And thank God that there are those, Christians, Muslims, Jews, people of every creed and none, who are living by that vision, crossing the barriers of prejudice and enmity that separate God’s children. In these lie the hope for our world.