Darfur, Baghdad, Kabul - cities and villages where arms and ammunition do the talking, places filled with hate, torture and death. So much hate that watching it from my safe North European corner, I cannot even begin to understand it.
We know that rifles and Rifle Associations rule in many other countries, as well, also in the so called developed world. It is as if our societies were not able to give young men any other tools to prove their identity as men than either weapons or cars, the bigger the better.
I was in Costa Rica last week to talk about sustainable urbanism. The tropical country has a fantastic natural environment. The Costa Ricans know that there is no alternative to sustainability if they want the tourism industry to flourish. However, their cities still need a lot of development. Urban public space and public transport are some of the key areas.
But there is one hugely important sector where Costa Rica has shown the rest of the world that the unthinkable alternative works: they have no army. The small country with no military forces has the most stable government and the most equal society in Central and South America.
Whoever commands the army in a developing country, by default has a fierce opposition fighting to be in control. Because military rule is not democratic governance, it involves corruption and privileges for selected few. The poor remain excluded from this exchange of favors. The rulers' priority will always be, how to remain in control of the army - and stay alive.
This is like writing to Santa Claus: please, destroy all military forces from the face of the earth! So simple and obvious, and yet a total utopia: forging arms to ploughs, and eradicating poverty for good.
P.S. I learned in San José that the body guards of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (whom I secretly admire) are from Cuba. They've been sent by Castro, who receives oil from Venezuela for a reduced price, and can resell it on the market for hard currency. - Contemporary political favors.