Maybe it's just me but this year it feels as if the world has become a more agitated and more desperate place. Perhaps I should blank out the news - live in a bubble of ignorance just as our ancestors would have done in the days before mass communication swamped us with information from faraway places and brought the world with all of its troubles into our living rooms.
Recently two particular groups of people have been leaving the British Isles for very contrasting reasons. On the hand you have a bunch of disenchanted young Muslims who have wormed their way into Asia Minor in order to pursue some kind of harebrained religious crusade, banding together under the black banner of the Islamic State, intoxicated by adventure and by a warped and ignorant re-interpretation of Islam. Ironically, they embrace cruelty and killing in the name of Allah.
And on the other hand you have volunteer health workers - prepared to leave our shores in order to do battle with ebola in West Africa. These brave people are prepared to risk their own lives in order help others as they struggle in challenging circumstances to turn back ebola's cruel tide of death. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes or in their protective suits and currently the very last countries on my travel plan bucket list would be Sierra Leone, Liberia and Senegal. In my book these people are quite simply heroes.
The first group go to kill and the second group go to save life. The contrast is stark.