About races and borders

I believe that we need challenges to keep our brain fit, and this is one reason why I’m writing this blog. I must admit that the current war in Ukraine feels like too much of a challenge, even to simply write about from a distance. My thoughts are with all the involved people who are suffering from war.

As I mentioned before, the idea of thepartyparallel came in the early 2021, and I wrote the following text a few weeks later. Since then Covid hasn’t disappeared, no, it mutated. And vaccinations are completed in some countries, while others still have very low rates. The rich countries didn’t share properly before they were done.

Even worse, totally unexpected, and unconceivable until the 24th of February 2022, we have a war in Europe, started by Russia. Some say it is the worst situation since World War II, but we won’t for sure forget the other conflicts in Eastern Europe, for example Yugoslavia (1991 till 2001).

At the time I wrote this text (in mid 2020), there were brutal conflicts all over the globe. There always has been. Racism, nationalism, aggression seem to be part of the human nature.

How does that fit into a blog about enjoying life, and how we have the choice – to leave the party in a better or in a worse shape?! This is how I tried.

Did you ever play the “the floor is lava” game when you were young? Hopping from chair to chair was the only way to survive, the hot floor would burn you immediately.

Do you play it as a grown-up? Is the floor lava when someone says so?

Is a piece of land a country with borders when somebody says so?

That’s of course much more complex, and it comes with so many consequences. Today we all are born in some kind of state. A government handles you a birth certificate, you are a citizen and have a passport. As citizen, you have the right to be somewhere, and you have the responsibility to follow laws and pay taxes.

These laws and taxes are implemented to keep the order and the infrastructure of your state intact, or even improve it. Different states are built and lead by different kinds of people, and of course they all have different backgrounds, personalities, and regional situations. Usually states rather split further into smaller states, than merge, don’t they? Yugoslavia is split into five different states. It is a pretty much underrated occurrence when states unite, like the USA or the European Union. It comes with some kind of guarantee for a peaceful future within the union.

Now we could have said, some thousand years ago, “let’s all agree to this and that, and that’s how we all live happily”. Everything’s done to improve life, grow, evolve. Everything is fair and for the good only. I guess religion was an attempt to do so. Religions to say correctly, plural. Even then no agreement to one version of what is best was found.

So the opposite of what would have been best happened. No agreements, but smaller and smaller areas, or kingdoms, with more and more wars and borders. There are just too many options and opinions of how to live a life.

In 2021, we had our tiny blue planet divided into 195 states, and 250.000km of borders to protect them from each other. There were estimated 40 armed conflicts in 2021 globally. Since WWII, there were unbelievable 242 armed conflicts between humans. 242 conflicts in 76 years makes more than three conflicts per year.

If you would have to explain why you have the right to keep someone out of “your” state, how would you do it? Your story possibly starts with “My family lives in this country in the XX generation already.”, or “I have a passport and pay taxes here…” Or “My country was founded some hundred years ago, and my people always lived here”. That’s why you have the right passport, and others don’t. You’re either in or you are out.

From 7 million years evolution, and 70.000 years after our ancestors left Africa, our borders have a history of maximal a few thousand years, often only a few hundred. There have been some 10.000 humans in the beginning of our existence, and we all are descendants of those. No one dropped in later from somewhere else, we all have the same background. Our life is short, and our memories are bad, but shouldn’t our mind be strong enough to make us humble and docile? Those who live in rich countries, and are not willing to share a bit with those in troubled countries, have they ever experienced war, violence and real hunger? Probably not. But I think it is not that hard to get an idea how it might be, all the movies, all the books, all the history should be enough to learn that.

Can we say it was a race, and the children of those who were first, are now the ones telling the others to stay outside? Are a few years in school, the paid taxes and the color of the skin enough to own or deny others a right on lifetime? If someone is born in Syria, Mali, Ukraine, is he not entitled to live in peace and wealth? If life is a party, and everything is enough, how could you tell some people not to eat from the buffet? Is it right to stay in one of the nice, warm and safe rooms and close the door, when people from an unsafe, cold, or otherwise comfortless room? The entire population would fit into one small country, e.g. New Zealand. By reducing our consumption of meat, we could easily feed the 800 million permanently hungry people. How can you possibly enjoy your party, knowing that people in other rooms suffer? That is not human, and it is not enjoying life. This is selfish and even shortsighted. Who says that your comfortable situation is stable for ever? Who says that the nationalist party you vote for, has the same good opinion about you as you do? Image there could be a future where you have to leave your country. And no one wants you.

There is this theory that the one common enemy would unite mankind. But the question is, would everyone see this enemy as the big one? Or would we call it by different names in different languages, and fight about different approaches to strike against it? Would we have different opinions of how dangerous the enemy is, and have different ratings about the consequences? Are poverty, hunger, viruses, climate change not already good enough common enemies? Isn’t it naïve to hope for aliens?

There are good people, trying to improve the world. There are people who are busy with themselves, not so much focused on the big picture, but with some potential for the good, and also the bad. And then, hopefully not more than the good, there are the bad. Those who start a bar fight over nothing, those who bully other students (read this blog why people bully). In nature, the strongest wins. There might not even be reasons why some lion suddenly decides to fight the current ruler, it is just in their nature. There are no defined targets for a ruler, the strongest will have the best chances for survival, an the most healthy offspring. Our culture is so much more complex, and so is the question who should rule.

What really shocked me about the war in Ukraine, is how a situation of such importance is no different to a fight on a schoolyard. It sounds hard or belittling, but only for our rulers. The regular people live in agony suddenly. Once again.

Imagine a bully threatening a classmate. A teacher sees that, and asks if everything is ok, and the bully says it’s nothing. The teacher leaves, and immediately the bully continues attacking the other student. The teacher gets back, and tells the bully to stop. He doesn’t stop. The teacher says there will be consequences. “Detention!” Maybe he has to write an essay. Exclusion from sports class. The bully doesn’t stop, and is now hitting with a bat, it gets really brutal. More consequences are implemented. The bully tells the teacher to stay back, or else… Now imagine the teacher won’t stop the bully, but hand over a bat to the attacked student. More students stand around, and hand over more weapons to the victim. No one actively stops the bully. They are all afraid to be the next victim. All are hiding in a certain anonymity of the bystanders. But no one stops the bully. Now image the bully is Russia, and the victim is Ukraine. And other countries stepping in would be the start of World War III. We are living in a very dark age.

I don’t want to share an opinion on how to stop this war, and honestly I don’t know what to believe. We are no longer animals since we have the language to call us human. But same as wolfs, bears, apes, we still have territories, we still listen to those who seems to be strongest, or are the loudest, and we prefer the same over the different. Having borders means having to protect them.

Unfortunately we have as many good examples as we have bad examples for our behavior, so I’m not even sure what humanity is. A war for sure requires us to keep the balance, do good to make the horror someone started a little less worse. You could donate to the UNHCR here. You can post and share anti-war content. Do your part, don’t be passive.

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