Arbitrary lines

January 9th

On my morning walk today, in a plaza tucked between apartments buildings in the center of Bialystok, I came upon this marked line in the pavement blocks. It marks the location where during the Second World War a ghetto wall stood. On the right, there was a ghetto in which no one survived. On the left, there was the rest of the city where many perished but weren’t penned in for slaughter. The same people were on both sides — living in the same city, eating the same foods, enjoying the same entertainment, making the same wretched living, having the same love and hopes for their children. Only religion was different, but even the beliefs were created a long time ago in the same place and were intertwined. And yet another group of people decided to separate them by drawing a line on the map and then building a wall there.

I don’t understand those lines marked either as memorials or as lines on the maps or checkpoints on the roads. Those lines are always drawn and underlined with innocent blood. I don’t understand the need or significance or reason for those lines. Especially, I don’t understand the fact that because of some arbitrary lines someone drew somewhere, people have to die or suffer indignities. Why do so many people hold those lines as sacred and immovable and all-defining their world-concept? Is it to just give a reason to sacrifices of their ancestor who died defending or expanding them?

I live about 50 kilometers from the border where European Union ends and wild East starts. Are people on the other side different from me? Genetically or ethnically? This border there was changed SEVEN times by hundred kilometers each way only during the XX century. And who knows how many times before that. People stayed the same. Separated now by a steel wall, razor wire, and angry young men in uniforms just itching to prove their manhood by hurting or killing “the other”.

Of course, there are cultural and social differences between both sides as well. Some created by despotic indoctrination, some by ingrained by governments’ projections of the past glories or defeats that now need to be expanded on or avenged. And yet, I see the same people as me. With the same dreams and needs and wants and joys and sadness and happiness and love and hopes. Perpetuating those artificial divisions will, as always, lead only to more mutual suffering.

I cannot change it, but I can have hope and understanding and respect for those on the other side, just like I do for my neighbors. I mean — that exactly who they are, those lines on the map notwithstanding.



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footsteps of the Furies

footsteps of the Furies

“for they knew what sort of noise it was; they recognize, by now, the footsteps of the Furies”. Enjoying life on the road to recovery. Observing and writing.