Belgium hosts a truly *civil* war

17Feb11

I’ve often marveled at how small some people’s worlds become after they have a baby: Everything revolves around the feeding times and the naps and the nappies.

Not until today, when Esteban’s condition seemed a bit more stable, did I realize that the same thing was happening to me.

Well, lucky for me, Esteban won’t require 18 years of near-constant devotion and discipline. (Heck … he’s happy with a popsicle and a pair of clean socks!) So today I allowed myself the luxury of catching up on the news.

I’ve been watching the historic events in Egypt with great interest, of course. And I was also encouraged to see that the calls for change were beginning to ripple across Libya and Iran. But for me, the most fascinating political update today was that Belgium may now hold the world record — 249 days — for going without a government.

There is tension and conflict in Belgium, no doubt. (Esteban, his father and his uncle walked right into the middle of a riot in Ghent last year.) But I absolutely love the spirit with which some prominent Belgians are embracing this conflict:

We never take ourselves seriously. We are the country of the Smurfs, of Tintin, of Rene Magritte and surrealism. So it is a country that, compared with England or France, we dare to make fun of ourselves,” said Brussels politician Luckas Vander Taelen.

“In any country in the world where two peoples live on the same territory, there are always problems. And mostly these problems are solved with a war. And in Belgium we have a history of 180 years without one casualty,” he said. “It might be boring, but it is better than a civil war.”

What a shame that “boring” doesn’t make the big headlines. The world would be so much better if more of us learned that conflicts and disagreements are inevitable — and that there is such a thing as a truly civil war.



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