HOPE flickers, fades and flickers again.
The families of those held hostage in far-flung countries are consigned to a cruel carousel of emotions.
Six weeks after their son was snatched by extremist Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, a Wagga family is still on that carousel.
The former St Michael’s and Trinity High student was born and raised in Wagga but like so many before him, left the city to explore the world.
That journey led him to many places but most recently, the war-ravaged streets of Kabul, where he had been teaching English at the American University of Afghanistan.
It was a gesture borne out of charity and a hunger for adventure.
On August 7, he and a colleague were plucked from a roadside and bundled into a four-wheel drive by members of the Haqqani network, a hard-line Taliban faction.
The Haqqanis are considered the most lethal and sophisticated insurgent group targeting Coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Six weeks since the kidnapping and the Wagga man’s parents are still in emotional purgatory.
They don’t know if they will ever see their son’s smiling face again, or indeed even if he’s still alive.
A bid by a crack team of US Navy SEALs in late August to rescue the two men from the clutches of their captors failed, compounding the already unthinkable anxiety for the parents.
Negotiating with terrorists for the release of hostages is a complex and highly volatile cat-and-mouse game.
For the sake of the two hostages, and their loved ones left behind, we can only pray for a speedy breakthrough.
The incident offers another jarring reminder of how invested we are in the ongoing war against Muslim extremism.
It’s a war that has been thrust upon the West by a group of radicals that put ideology before humanity.
It’s a war of attrition with only one apparent end game.
Extremism, by its very nature, maintains and reinforces irreconcilable differences.
Make no mistake, the kidnapping of the Wagga man and his US colleague is an attack on the West.
We have no choice but to confront such extremism, despite the dangers associated with it. And only by destroying radical Islam can we hope to end the ever-escalating threat it poses.