It’s a momentous day in Europe. The last armed rebel group on the continent has laid down its weapons and disbanded. ETA, the Basque independence fighters will no longer be blowing people up or kidnapping and shooting them. Hundreds have died in the name of Basque freedom, thousands have been injured. Now they realize it wasn’t and isn’t worth it.
Their reasoning was this: we want an independent Basque region. Spain will not give it to us. But if we make life miserable for the ordinary Spaniard, they will eventually say, “Get out, and take your damned region with you. Just leave us alone.” And the way to make life miserable is to set off bombs in random shopping centers, detonate cars for assassinations–the usual formula for mayhem and murder. It’s a harsh calculus, trading the lives of many hundreds of innocent people for political sovereignty, and it didn’t work.
There’s hardly a country in Europe that does not have some group agitating for autonomy or outright secession. Catalonia and Galicia in Spain, Scotland, and Wales in the UK, some in Belgium want to split that country up into Flanders and Wallonia. It makes you ask yourself, is life so onerous under the yoke of these existing nations that all these people want out? The grass seems always greener on the other side, and yet, is it? And is it worth anyone’s life to get it? Let’s hope everyone keeps cool and the issues can be resolved peacefully.
The other good news is that the rebel group FARC in Columbia is in the process of disarming as well. They, too, seem to have realized that their goals might be more easily achieved in a different way than through armed conflict. But, alas, a renegade group has rejected the peace deal, and this week blew up a car full of soldiers. Once violence becomes habitual, it’s never easy to stop it. A single disgruntled combatant can cause a lot of damage.
This brings us to the Middle East where the violence goes on and on. This week in addition to the marketplace bombings that have become commonplace, we had the bombings of two Egyptian Christian churches, killing dozens on Palm Sunday. You can’t help but ask yourself, what would it take for these deluded killers to see what the Basques and FARC have seen? The answer, unfortunately is, it would take a lot: a whole new worldview, a whole new religion, replacing the death cults that currently reign. For the Basques, the violence stemmed from a political ideal, but in the Middle East, it comes from leaders who claim it’s what God wants.
One of the hallmarks of what it means to be human is to recognize that death is sacred, and to deprive someone of their life randomly, in the name of a deity is to have gone over to the Dark Side. Deprograming the thousands who have signed on to this bloodthirsty agenda will be the work of many years. God help us.