Monday, September 23, 2013

Nations, States, and Borders

A Reformed Pastor living in Budapest, Dick Otterness, shared this video on facebook and I thought it worth sharing on here as well.  I like what this map is able to show for several reasons:
  •  Hungary, and really all of central Europe, are situated as they should be, in the center.  Too often we think of Hungary and other central European neighbors as being situated much further east.  There's good reason for this, part of which stems from lumping these countries and their politics into the Eastern Bloc countries and thus adopting a strictly west/east mindset.  We also like to separate more developed, powerful western European countries from the rest in our minds.  
  • Despite fewer "colors," or nations of people as they are, that exist on today's map of Europe, many of these national identities are alive and well among inhabitants of each colored area today.  
  • Building on the last point, this shows how many histories, economic systems, ethnic groups, and historic feuds have been put together in the European Union.  With 28 member states, their motto is, "United in diversity."  One big happy family, right?
  • Speaking more specifically to Hungary, the boundaries of the Hungarian empire show very few changes for most of the last millenium.  And then suddenly the sovereign borders shrink during WWI.  Know that Hungarian people and Hungarian nationalism continue to exist outside of the borders of the state which contributes to this feeling that they are still a mighty kingdom, just living in a smaller space.  Hungarians are very aware of their powerful history in Central Europe and how that changed in the early 19th century.  
  • Last, I like that the map shows constant changes in borders.  It's hard to imagine the conversation in the U.S. when we acquired Hawaii and Alaska in 1959.  Where will our borders change next?  How will borders in Europe change?  There's always talk in Scotland and in Catalonia of separatist movements, to name just two.
Food for thought.  

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