We are regularly reminded of the cost society pays as it dismisses us older people as ‘past it’ and no longer much use.

The current problem in Australia brought on by a police employee being killed as he left work by a 15-year-old Muslim boy reminds me of my time growing up in England at the time of the ‘troubles’ in Ireland. It is unbelievable now but the Catholics and the Anglicans were madly killing each other because of misconceptions each had of the other ‘side’. It is unbelievable because each were factions of the one religion, the Christian one, which teaches about loving one another, including your neighbour. I have no idea what started it as it was well underway when I became aware of it. It went on for decades.

I could never understand why the leaders of each side didn’t publically proclaim that murder was not part of their faith, that in fact each group believed in peace. I used to wonder why the leaders of each side didn’t tour the war-torn area together. The problem was that in those days they didn’t speak to each other, even though they believed in the same peaceful ‘love thy neighbour’ faith.

I’m told that the Cronulla riots some years ago in Sydney fizzled out because the leader of the local mosque gathered his young flock together and told them that fighting was not the Muslim way. Without an opponent there was no more fighting. He had no problem dealing with the problem and it is hard to believe that any of his flock could become radicalised.

Apparently one senior Muslim leader has been in Australia for 17 years and still does not speak English. If this is the case no wonder some of them do not feel themselves to be part of this country and are therefore not determined to protect the freedom we cherish.

The current situation is a waste of the young people involved and something the parents and religious leaders should be ashamed of. The ‘troubles’ in Ireland went on for decades with not only the loss of precious young lives but wrecked their families and neighbourhoods as well. We have to recognise the situation and prevent it becoming a decades long problem. We need to address it now.

We older people have seen it all before and witnessed what happens to generations if the problem is not dealt with in the beginning.