It seems silly to write about the things I usually do when I’ve seen several headlines today that used the word War. War is a scary word, but a scarier thing.

As I read through articles about what is happening in some places in the world, I sometimes wonder how the history of the times we live in will be taught, compared to the way I learned history at school. The more parallels I see, the more concerned I become about the state of the world.

Let’s take World War One for example. I remembered the causes thanks to a handy acronym, MAINS: militarism, alliances, imperialism, nationalism, and the spark. The spark of that war was the assassination of the archduke of Austria-Hungary, Franz Ferdinand.

When I read and hear about what is happening now, I can’t help but wonder what our spark would be. Is it in the article I read yesterday about the brutal murder of another American Journalist, or is it in the next tab of my laptop, hidden in an article about Canada’s possible future involvement in the East? Has it already happened, or will I read about it tomorrow morning?

Everything that is happening could be a spark, a cause, a reason to fight or a reason not to. I don’t think war is a word to be thrown around lightly, but I also don’t want to believe that it is being used in full context.

Yesterday I started writing about the importance of showing up to life, because it’s like the “hilarious” joke your friend tells you – you just had to have been there. But like I already mentioned, it felt wrong to be focusing on those things. Yes, it’s important to be fully present in all aspects of your life, but is that the most important thing in the world?

In the book The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin discusses how she struggled with her project to improve her happiness when there were bigger problems in the world. She mentions that by making her own life better, she hopes to make other people’s lives better too, and that is how she got over that feeling of strange guilt.

When future students learn about 2014, what moment is going to define our year? We might just be one bullet point answer, one multiple choice question on their test. We might be the year things took a turn for the worse; the year it all started. Or, we might be the comeback kid year of the 2000s, the year we got our act together and turned things around.

I want 2014 to turn things around. I really do. I am, by nature, an optimistic person; I try to balance reading the depressing news with good news. But the negative news stares you in the face and lurks in the back of your brain, and as much as I try, I can’t ignore that word. War.

I even feel guilty cringing at the word war, when it is more than a word for some people. I read about the horrific things online, while there are people  actually witnessing them. I try to remain optimistic, but I also have to be realistic.

Promises of change can be given over and over, but I’m looking for a new kind of spark: a spark of hope. In the darkness that seems to be rapidly enveloping our world, that one positive spark will start a fire; and it will ignite the path to a time when terror at the face of war is just a  horrible nightmare, and not also an impending reality.