Paris Terror Attacks: The battle for freedom goes on
On Thursday, the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble talked about the hundreds of thousands of Middle East migrants - most of them young men - coming into Europe. He said: "Avalanches can be triggered if a careless skier hits the slopes and moves a bit of snow. Whether we're already at the point where the avalanche has reached the valley floor, or whether it's still in the upper slopes, I don't know." On Friday, as the horror of the murderous Paris attacks unfolded, he must have felt he could hear an ominous rumble.
The perpetrators were supporters of those in Syria and elsewhere in that region who seek to impose a totalitarian way of life on the rest of the world no less. It is unlikely they all came from the recent influx of migrants. French security authorities have prevented numerous attacks by long-established disaffected young Muslim men, but like terrorists everywhere, they only have to get lucky once.
As with all who base their ideology on religion, they are fanatics and are convinced that their beheadings and their suicide atrocities are no worse that the bombing missions by western countries. But the difference is, whatever the political machinations of the western leaders - and there always seem to be machinations where the Middle East is concerned - at heart the West is fighting for freedom and against those who would enslave all.
Anyone who watched the chaos in Paris on Friday night and yesterday must have remembered the London bombings and the Madrid bombings and the more-recent Tunisian attack and wondered is anywhere safe anymore. And that would please the jihadists responsible for these outrages. They would be gratified if their actions could cow us to the point where we become insular, paranoid and inward-looking. They would not be sorry to see Europe turning into the kind of fearful entity that sees individual member states erecting fences along its borders, because that is the opposite of freedom.
The words of Donald Tusk, the European Council President, last week would play right into their hands. He said: "I understand why, due to historical reasons, Germany may have difficulty setting up a strict regime on its own borders. But for Germany, European leadership responsibility also means controlling Europe's external borders, decisively if necessary, in accordance with pan-European unity."
And today's Sunday Independent Millward Brown poll shows that, with 42pc of the people believing the 4,000 refugees Ireland has agreed to take in is too many, it is clear that we are not immune from that mindset.
This weekend, as another member of the global family - Burma - returns to democracy, we are reminded that freedom is a prize not easily won. And democracy, with all its imperfections, is not to be taken for granted. It has to be defended. It has to be fought for. The struggle in the Middle East is a war - it is a war against terrorism but it is also a fight for freedom. We cannot always choose the battleground the enemies of freedom will decide to fight on.
That is part of the price of freedom. But it is a battle we must fight, to protect our hard-won freedoms. And it a battle that will always be worth fighting as we stiffen our resolve but never allow our hearts to harden.