Kyrgyzbelgiastan

I’ve been following the tragic events in Southern Kyrgyzstan all weekend and coordinating neweurasia‘s English coverage.   It took me a while to re-establish contact with our team in Osh and Jalalabad, at least one of whom appeared to be hiding in his house.  The videos have been heartbreaking: entire neighborhoods burned down.

The whole disaster has cast a dim light back onto the society in which I currently find myself, Belgium.  This country also has long standing difficulties between its two major constituent ethnicities, and it has has just undergone an election in which apparent separatists emerged triumphant. Many of my friends here are alarmed by the results and fear for the future of their nation.

Of course, the Flemish and Wallonians aren’t slaughtering each other like the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.  My friend Antonio gives a Marxist explanation — Belgium is simply too rich and too comfortable to risk violently tearing itself apart.  He also happens to think that violence is the only way to actually effect a separation; Flanders and Wallonia are simply too entangled to partition peacefully.

I disagree: Leuven witnessed violence back in the 60s and 70s, so the Belgians are fully capable of hurting each other.  Yes, the wealth certainly helps, but the main reason this country isn’t erupting into conflict is because Belgium is not alone; rather, she’s part of a much larger international community.  Kyrgyzstan, by contrast, has been left to its own devices.

Perhaps, then, I’m asserting that there’s something dark within the human character — do we prefer the supposed ease and zero-sum game of bloodletting to the headaches and disappointments of negotiation and compromise?  I prefer to think that human beings are better than that, and that violence is more often the result of manipulation or negligence.

But this is all besides the point.  I cannot express enough my desire for the many peoples of the earth to find ways to live together.  As Baha’u’llah has said, the earth is but one country, and we are all her citizens.  Whatever our grievances with each other, surely we can find a way to resolve them without recourse to division, treachery, and murder.

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