When I look at the current world-wide issues, I observe that we globally have not taken the step yet to transcend the interests of our own groups towards the level of humanity. Companies, ideologies and countries are still staying on a local or isolated level, primarily favouring the interests of limited influence groups around a few central people, and at the same time neglecting the well-being of the greater whole. And many of these groups are stuck in an us/them mentality with respect to other groups, so, as a result, our humanity is kept divided, and we suffer worldwide from the actions of sometimes powerful local autocrats.

A few groups already take, as an exception, the interest of the whole into account when making decisions and in their actions. Moreover, there are ever more “transversal” groups, creating and maintaining links between people, across groups that otherwise would be separated, like national and international associations for sport, culture, leisure, education, care, trade unions, companies with many branches, umbrella organisations, parliaments with many represented parties. We need to strengthen this fabric of transversal and local relations, if we want to transcend the interests of individual groups, to come to a united humanity. Coming to an agreement between more or less similar minded people within one group is not so difficult, the real challenge is to negotiate and make compromises between several groups, with diverse and sometimes contradictory interests, certainly when we judge that those of another are completely ludicrous. Relationships from transversal groups can help bridging the gap between otherwise totally isolated parties.

It is high time that we truly and thoroughly investigate which elements contribute to build and strengthen that fabric of relationships. We have already witnessed that the combination of general elections with a majority system, capitalism without many restrictions, and some light organisation imposed from the outside, has not led to a durable society in any country that Europe once ruled and left afterwards. Some elements that possibly do help seem to me: free access to independent information (by media and scientific research), a constitution that can’t be hijacked by a powerful group, that excludes ruling by a single party and that is guaranteed by just and independent judges, a decision making process that incites multiple parties (and potentially even randomly chosen citizens) to negotiate and find compromises, priority for human equality and welfare of all, and freedom to unite (locally and transversal), without any impediment.

In Belgium, and broader also in Europe, I see many of those elements actively present, although not very deeply rooted, and hardly protected on the longer term. But at the same time, there continues to be in many groups a stubborn nostalgia for a “simpler” but no longer existing majority thinking. It is time that we finally drop the naive illusion that “there would be no issues if all people were of good (read: our) will”, and that we as a society reorient ourselves thoroughly to how we can live together constructively with many diverse beliefs in a complex environment with limited resources. Once we have gathered much more experience with that, probably learning the hard way and to our cost, we can think of exporting that through our (trade) relations to other groups and in that way make the world a better place for everybody.

I hope we can take this route passionately, during several generations, and can invest as much time, energy and resources in this endeavour as some groups do today in preparing or carrying out wars. We owe this towards the people of Ukraine, who suffer today immeasurably, victim as well of a powerful kleptocracy as of our lack of a truly uniting web of relationships. It has become more than clear now, that we really need such an initiative to protect us from repeating the same errors in the future. I believe that a diverse and deeply connected humanity truly is possible, if we go for it together and with resolve. The world can only benefit from this, so what are we waiting for to strengthen the fabric of human relationships?