Welp, I suppose I am Belgian. I mean I am, but culturally, I actually have no clue what it means to be Belgian, and, furthermore, I am probably more Norwegian than anything else (maybe German? I don’t even know). Regardless, I have this strange last name, which most people think is French, but it is actually distinctly Belgian. And because of that, we Baudhuin types do tend to think of ourselves as Belgian above anything else. It’s why I call myself the “Belgian Friar” and it’s why my grandfather at one point had a front license plate that read “The Belgian King”. One day I hope to make the pilgrimage there as my brother did a couple years ago.
When I heard of the attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, my heart hurt. Because of this way in which I identify myself, it felt like an attack on my homeland. When attacks like that happen in areas where you have some connection you really feel it. On one hand, this is not a good thing, because we really should feel it when it happens anywhere, and it happens “anywhere” all the time. We just rarely notice it when it’s not in “the west”, or when it’s not “my people”, or “our friends”. But on the other hand, this is a good thing, because it does wake us up to painful realities of a hurting world.
And that’s what hit me on Tuesday. I heard of the attacks and immediately began to dig more deeply into social media to find out more. These were “my people” so I dug in expecting to see images of “my people”. To my surprise what happened was “Belgium” disappeared for me and instead of seeing “my people” I just saw people. Humans. Terrified, hurting humans- each distinct in their own identity and story, but all connected by virtue of being humans on this earth together.
And then I was struck by what my brother said about it on social media. Having gone to Brussels a couple years ago and falling in love with it (which I believe he would have regardless of our lineage) he had some heart felt things to say about the city and his attachment to it. And then he said this: “Please stop the violence and the bullshit.”
And that’s it for me, I guess. I think that sums up my feelings, and my prayers. I don’t know if this is what my brother meant, but what I took out of that is how I feel, which is the violence is painful, and it needs to stop and stop now, but what also needs to go away is all the bullshit that comes after and around it- the political posturing, the hateful speech towards certain kinds of people, the divisive talk, the increasing of hate and retaliatory violence, and so on. I don’t know how, but my heart longs for all of it to stop: the violence and the bullshit.
If ever I needed Easter, this may be it. I need the belief that somewhere, somehow beneath the dirt, beautiful things are stirring. God bless the world- no exceptions.