What Brussels is to me

Brussels streets_

A random street in Schaerbeek, just across the tracks from the now infamous Molenbeek. A predominantly Muslim area, I was always treated with nothing but respect.

Brussels? The first memory that comes to mind is feeling like an episode of The Office had leaked into real life. These guys, with their corny jokes and awkward attempts at flirting, worked for a paper company. It was just so perfect.


I’d contacted a Belgian tour company and they’d sent me to tag along with these business trippers for an hour. I was fascinated by the improbable story of Belgian independence, but they mostly talked about sports, and the only thing I wrote down was “Don’t talk about something you can’t show.” Can’t say I’ll always obey that edict, now that I am a guide, nor can I follow it in this post


Brussels walkway

Brussels is not the dour place some say.

Because how can I show the swirl of emotion as very different images from Brussels slam into the news? The horror and sorrow and empathy and anger and confusion and sick knowledge that this happens much more often in a few other countries, and is no less horrible in commonality than rarity, perhaps only more so.


And fear. That’s in there too. But not fear of a terrorist attack, which I still believe is not something you or I will ever actually experience. Shark attacks, plane crashes, terrorist attacks. They are scary, they happen, but they are not factors in how I choose to plan my life. I like swimming, I take a lot of flights, and I believe there is far more goodness, more peace, in the human soul than violence.


Brussels is watching

I never did find out what was going on with this. Somewhere in Brussels.

No, the fear I feel is that we will assist the extremists in their goals. That we will respond in exactly the wrong way. Because that conviction of mankind’s goodness is difficult to maintain sometimes. In myself, when I feel the desire to see someone punished for the violence, and the first image is more explosions, and I wait for my animal amygdala to give way to my human neocortex, which understands that violence only creates more violence.


And that fear is strong, that conviction of human goodness strained, when I watch the Republican primaries, and the bragging demonstration of a viewpoint that scorns such understanding. Scorns much understanding at all, as far as I can tell. It seems clear to me that Donald Trump is running on a platform of willful ignorance, and such arrogant idiocy has never been more dangerous.


Brussels corner_

I had a great lunch in a Turkish place just around the corner after taking this.

Because make no mistake, the lunatics who killed people in Brussels would like nothing better than to see Trump elected. Their gameplan is fear, anger, reaction. Us versus Them. No comprehension, no discussion, no progress, only a devolution to a world of warring tribes and caliphates. That’s what terrorism does. It removes the evolved brain from the decision-making process. As I’ve written before, terrorism is the strategy of the weak.


Brussels is not a city of fear

Brussels is not a city of fear. And this statue of theirs rather reflects how I view Trump’s candidacy. If he wins, then fear. Until then?

I for one do not want to live in that kind of world. I’d rather live in this one, where awkward businessmen in semi-fitting suits can ignore tour guides while I sit in the back of the bus, a peaceful piece of person afloat in a beautiful world, because even though that world has its problems, I have faith that humans are determined to make positive progress towards a better future.


Or you can vote for Trump.