As you know if you are following this blog, about 8 weeks ago we visited four of the great cities of Flanders, Leuven, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges. Aside from simply seeing the beauty of Belgium and learning about its artists and architects, the trip also offered a historical perspective on many of the political and cultural struggles that are currently impacting Belgium and her future. In every Flemmish square there is statue of a local hero, often someone who battled invaders or unjust foreign rulers, but they are not Belgian heroes, they are clearly Flemmish heros.
Flanders predates Belgium, and consequently, the traditions and cultural celebrations of the region are not Belgian, but regional. Nationalistic thinking would suggest that Flanders and Wallonia should seperate, but if Belgium can find a way to persist, she can become an example of a country, whose national goal is something greater than simply maintaining the well-being of a historically similiar people. Belgium can be a country that respects its past, while also embracing a diverse future, where culture is respected, but not at the cost of people.