The Roman Empire during its robust youth had one overriding set of principles which it imposed and impressed upon every society they subsumed into their realm. Once the Roman conquest eclipsed your borders you would be permitted to retain only those parts of your culture with which Rome itself saw as unthreatening to their ideas and ideals for societal progressiveness. Rome brought modernity to every part of their empire enriching those lands with sanitation and trade access never thought of before their arrival. They brought Roman roads, Roman aqueducts, Roman sanitation, Roman baths and probably most important, Roman law and order. The one thing Rome did not countenance was the practice of tribalism. Once a part of Rome you were to act Roman, period. It was the eventual loss of this one crucial demand that likely led as much to the fall of the Roman Empire as all of the other factors combined. It took centuries but in the final measure the Roman Empire fell to tribal conquerors largely because they accepted these tribal people into their midst largely to perform the tasks that Romans considered below their status to perform. This eventually even included guarding their borders which resulted in arming these tribal members hired to guard Rome’s borders with Roman weaponry and armor which they stole and with which they armed their tribesmen with these weapons which they used in their plunder of the last remnants of the Roman Empire.
Today the Western world is inviting in tribal peoples from the underdeveloped world to fill the positions which there are either too few people to fill the positions due to shrinking populations or to do the jobs Westerners just won’t do. Many of the tribal people refuse to meld their ways into the fabric of Western society and instead they grow their own tribal cutout area where they apply their own laws and practices and Westerners loathe treading. Still, the Western nations continue to permit more and more of these very people who refuse to adopt Western ways and whose most ardent leadership have oft threatened to transform and change their host society forcing it to adopt their mannerisms and culture. This can only result in one of two endings, the death of Western culture or a bloodbath where only one side will prevail. Either way the continuation of Western culture is dearly threatened.
There exist a few sins from the past which also exacerbate many areas of the underdeveloped world which can be laid at the feet of the Western world and particularly the Europeans. The complaint by ISIS against the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the borders drawn up by the victorious allies after World War I and the borders imposed across continents as the age of colonialism ended and the mostly European nations retreated from their colonies granting them freedom which only resulted in tribal clashes causing civil war and strife in nation after nation is one problem which the West must recognize and now is as good a time to admit the failure of those false borders and to reach agreements to draw national borders along lines which represent the realities on the ground. This will not serve to resolve every problem area nor will it bring every tribal conflict to an end, but it may be a first step to correcting a grievous harm caused in the name of facilitating Western dominance into the future.
Setting more homogenous borders is simply the first step. The next step is to work towards encouraging tribal peoples to accept a more egalitarian view of humankind and finding paths which encourage cooperation over conflicts. This can be encouraged further by introducing modern manufacturing, advanced agricultural methods and bringing modern medicine and hygiene including water treatment, waste disposal, and other necessities for large cities and a longer and healthier life. There is the necessity of providing a promise of a better future in order to encourage change and progress towards a more integrated world where cooperation replaces altercation and progress pushes off the disease and malnutrition which is so often the result of a backward and unmodern society. This will take a degree of sacrifice and altruism from the Western nations but considering the alternatives of conflict and continued hatreds, disruptions which threaten everyone.
Tribalism is not exclusive to the third and developing worlds, it is also appearing within the Western world. There are a number of peoples who desire to split from the nation which they regard as having illegally incorporated their lands and in some cases split their lands between two nations believing that this crime was perpetrated for the most nefarious of reasons, to weaken their ability to rise up and claim back their independence. These complaints need to be addressed and possibly in some cases acted upon to relieve the tensions and in the name of future cooperation. Should any of these claims be realized, the new entity must also realize that they owe their previous nation or nations a degree of loyalty and cooperation in order to allow for some compensatory rehabilitation and mending between and for both peoples. Perhaps in many cases there could be an arrangement granting a degree of autonomy without necessitating an actual breakup of existing states when the aggrieved entity exists within one national boundary. In the cases where arbitrary boundaries have resulted in forming states where civil unrest and internal strife has resulted and become a normal state, then there should be a redrawing of entire regions with the consultation of the chosen leadership of the respective peoples. The real threat and difficulty will be dealing with often dictatorial leaders who, along with military consisting of a loyal minority who control through force of arms, will refuse to surrender and allow these changes. There will need to be some compensatory alternative offer to guarantee their safety and the continued safety of their supporters while still moving forward. The alternative is too forbiddingly dangerous to simply allow the future to decide these things simply through force of arms and increasing terrorism and hatreds. All one need do is look around the globe and see the numerous hotspots and potential new boiling points threatening to explode across the globe and it rapidly becomes apparent that these changes are going to come one way or the other and without any intervention preventing violence and wars from reaching every corner of our world. The other way is far too frightening to even imagine. The United Nations was founded in the hope of negotiating the difficulties and challenges facing the world, its constituent nations and their peoples. Perhaps it is time to utilize that venue for some real and actually rehabilitative endeavors which can undo and correct the many wrongs from the past, both those which were intentional and those which were merely expedient and not maliciously inflicted. We can pay the piper now or the piper will collect in the near future and the longer we make the piper wait, the more costly the price will be in treasure and in something far more precious, lives and potentially modernity. Can we afford to simply wait and see?
Beyond the Cusp