I JUST love being challenged on my views, whether they are religious, political, community or even sporting.

Sometimes in debate I regret perhaps being too robust in trying to establish the logic of my position.

I have sought to ban bombs (very unsuccessfully, may I say). I have argued for independence. I opposed Brexit. I believe that the Lomond Banks development and Tom Hunter’s educational facility at Ross Priory can only be good for the area, bringing inward investment and jobs.

I do think it is important to take a stance on most issues…but I also believe we should be able to disagree yet remain friends with those who see it differently.

I hope readers might at least find favour in what I have written about the tragedy of Afghanistan which has a history of many hundreds of years. One wonders what exactly has been achieved?

I am sure the governments of the United States and the UK genuinely believe that Western democracy is a good thing and in the main it is, but I don’t believe it can be forced at the point of a gun.

This whole sad sorry episode reminds me so much of Vietnam, and maybe even before that, Korea.

One image of the Vietnam war remains with me. I am sure it is embedded on the minds of many.

It is that of nine-year-old Kim Phuc running screaming towards the camera after a napalm attack incinerated her village, her clothes, and then her skin.

Likewise, from Afghanistan, the tragic image of people clinging to an aircraft and eventually falling from it in a doomed attempt to escape from what appeared to be the bigger fear will, I suspect, stay with me for a long time to come.

I weep for Afghanistan. I weep for parents who lost their sons, wives who lost their husbands, and children who lost a father. For what? I have no answer. Only questions.

One American clergyman put it this way: “We pray for Afghanistan’s people today; for those who are fleeing, who know they can’t stay.

“For those who face terror by day and by night, for those who can’t leave, and whose dreams can’t take flight.

“We pray for the people who fear what’s in store; for dreamers and poets who grieve a closed door.

“For those who are hiding so no one will see the people they are, or who they might be.

“We weep for the places where war leads to war. We pray for a hand to heal and restore.

“Bless all who seek justice and peace as the way. We pray for Afghanistan’s people today.”