By Walter Broeckx
I know I can sometimes be a dreamer. I sometimes dream of all people living together in harmony. Where all people can live in peace. Not afraid of being put in prison or being killed for having another but “wrong” religion or for having no religion at all. As John Lennon used to sing: “you can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”.
Now to get that far worldwide is something that looks impossible in the very near future. But when I only look at Europe you could have a bit more hope for this to happen. After all we have had no war between different countries since the end of the WWII. And that is some 71 years ago now. Yes we had a few civil wars with countries imploding or exploding as you could also say with some terrible events leading to too many civilians killed or wounded.
But since the civil war in the former republic of Yugoslavia has ended we live in Europe in a very peaceful environment. When I talk or meet people from another European country I consider them to be my brothers. My European brothers. It doesn’t really matter if you have the Belgian nationality on your passport or any other European nationality: I like you or dislike you as much as I would like my friendly neighbour or dislike the other neighbour that makes my life to a hell. (Although in fact I only have friendly neighbours in reality!)
So from Iceland to Greece, from Russia to Portugal: I like you all if you are a good human being.
As a result I don’t need any flag waving in particular. I respect everyone’s flag and anthem but I can and could easily live without it. Because I think that all that flag waving and nationalism has caused too many people to die for in the past. So much nationalism has a negative link with me as it always reminds me of dark times where countries were fighting each other at the expense of people like you and me.
Civilians who just wanted to live, work, eat, drink, bring up their children in a decent way… but when the big lords of war came along they all got dragged in to it and were the worst victims. Not the big guys on the top who started the war or who kept it going suffered most. No the ordinary people who had to give away their sons to become cannon fodder for the glory of the general who ordered them to be slaughtered by the dozens, hundreds, thousands… millions.
I have mentioned it before that my wife is from Ypres. A town that became world famous for all the wrong reasons. “Yperiet” as mustard gas is also known because it first was employed in Yper. And then all the thousands of unburied soldiers that are remembered in the Menin gate.
I know many see it as a great memorial for the British Empire. But at the end of the day for me there shouldn’t have been a memorial at all. But because the big crowned heads and presidents of European countries wanted to show off their self-importance they started a war. Wars are always political. And on my dislike list, politicians are very close to the top.
When I go to the Menin Gate and hear the last post I can’t help it but the only thing I hear is mothers crying over their children that were taken away from them far too soon. Young man that were made believe they were going to fight for their country and volunteered to get massacred. Sorry to say it but they were just used for the politicians to show off their importance, they were used by generals to get more medals on their chest.
But that is the past. I thought we had learned a bit from it. Well that is the lesson I have learned from it. To distrust politicians and not follow them when they want to go to war. They sit safe in their bunkers; we the ordinary people will suffer the killing and get wounded.
But this is 2016. One would think and hope that after 71 years of peace in Europe we might be able to do things together and do it in a peaceful way.
Alas…. Alas…. Alas… even in 2016 too many people are filled with a dislike for other people. Why would I feel the need to punch someone against his head because he is born in Italy? Or Germany? Or France? Or England? Or Sweden? Or Russia? Give me one good reason why I should hate such people that much to kick them? To throw things at them? Is there one such reason to do this? Has anyone from these countries done me, in person, anything wrong? I don’t know them so why should I hate them?
Of course there is not such a reason. And we all know this. But weeks before the European championship starts in each country that takes part the feelings of a superior own national feeling is being fed to the masses. WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS! Is the underlying message that is spread in the heads of many people. THEY ARE THE ENEMY! Is the word that is spread out by the media.
Of course the media doesn’t say it openly : punch them when you see them in the street and kick them when you can. No, they don’t say it that open of course. But the opponents are portrayed as “the enemy”. And then hordes of drunk people are being given more and more alcohol, the messages in their heads becomes more and more war messages and then it only needs one spark to ignite the fires we have seen in the streets of many French cities.
Serving alcohol to football supporters is neigh on criminal for me. Raising the nationalist feelings by the media is a second part of it. And then you have the morons who can be found in each country. The people you can dislike. Put all that together and you get the perfect mix for the terrible scenes we have witnessed.
I am not a fan of UEFA and FIFA tournaments. But okay, I can live with them as long as no Arsenal player gets injured. But when I see the scenes where instead of uniting the people from Europe it is as if civil war has broken out between the people of Europe.
We really just should see this for what it is: “a money machine that uses the nationalistic feelings of people to spend more and more money” That is all what an European championship is in fact. To see multi billionaires play in a different environment in order to make them even richer than they already are (and for most that is already obscene rich).
And us the plebs…..what do we do??? We drink ourselves in the ground, and then because of our nationalistic feelings being misused by the media we start punching other people on the head, smash them, kick them, hit them with all that we can get in our hands….
Send the countries home that have supporters who misbehave??? No, just send everybody home. Just stop this madness. Send everybody home and only let them come back when they can behave as reasonable and well behaved people.
I’m not a fan of EC or WC as you may know from my earlier articles. I have almost reached the point that I no longer just shrug my shoulders. No I reach the point that I start to dislike all the people involved in this. Really dislike. Uefa, media, fans, … this is no feast or party. No this is a bloody shame that we inhabitants from Europe are putting on ourselves.
Why can’t we at least respect other people from wherever they are? It is something all of us should do and certainly those who go the France. And if you are not able to do this: stay away. I hope that everyone involved in any fighting will be severely punished by the authorities. Send them to prison for years. Just make sure they don’t spoil the fun that might be there for those who enjoy such things. There is no fun in it for me but for those who find it fun, let them enjoy it.
As I said at the start I know I am a dreamer. But as long as people cannot fulfil this dream we should stop football in European championships or world cups. Football should unite people, not divide them. And dividing itself is not the real problem but when this dividing leads to violence then the line has been crossed and we should stop them. Let’s start again when all of us can behave in a civilised way.
But I don’t think I will live long enough to see that day arriving I’m afraid….
- Arsenal transfer rumours take on a new and unexpected twist
- The English media and government are directly responsible for the violence in Marseille
- Why is football on TV and radio so patronising, ignorant and irrelevant, from the fans’ point of view?
- Arsenal in the summer of 1931, the records and the Scandinavian tour.