…instead of a congratulations for 15 years of EFB

and instead of a thank you for 11 years of cooperation

with EFB through the Vicinity project…

Voja Žanetić

Those were the good days, back when we could meaningfully use those precious and valuable terms like “vicinity”, “region” or “neighbouring countries”, and refer to something that affects us the most, or we affect it. But those times have gone by with a blink; a new era has arrived, one in which everything affects us, while we no longer affect anything. I will explain.

A few months ago, news broke on one of the social networks that the price of parking in a small town had risen, with a comment explaining that this is makes sense because Ukraine is the largest producer of parking lots in Europe. That logic also makes sense, because we were previously used to not leaving the house for weeks, because some guy from Wuhan (we still have no idea where Wuhan is) dropped a test tube in the laboratory, or some family from around the test tube area ate a pengolin. (whatever a pangolin is, because we still don’t distinguish it from other inedible animals).

They had already explained to us then that everything has to become more expensive because suddenly there are no containers for goods in that same China, and the containers were probably also the raw material from which gasoline, diesel and kerosene are made, so transportation also became more expensive, for reasons that we understand a little better.  This logic of interconnectedness continued when Putin decided to call the war a Special Military Operation. Thus, the war in Ukraine became the reason for every greedy person to cut their own, personal Ukrainian tax and for two years now, we have been watching a live broadcast of a process in which money and work are worth the same, and everything that is bought with money and with work is worth at least double. R-o-b-b-e-r-y, funny way to spell inflation.

Now, with this somnabule war that has broken out in the Middle East, I guess we will see a new phase of destruction of the vicinity, for reasons that the vicinity cannot influence at all. Phones and computers are filled with opinions of economic and war prophets, we have divided ourselves into Palestinians and Israelis (with a loose connection to the division into Russians and Ukrainians), and we do all this under the auspices of October temperatures that the best summer resorts would not wish upon themselves in peak season. And when you add all this up, for us in the vicinity everything in the world has become even more of a vicinity.

Gone are the times when foreign news crews from these parts of the world broadcast local tragedies for the sake of global warning. The civilized world looked our way with astonishment and disgust, eager to shut down our Last World Wars and indulge in peaceful waiting in line for newer and newer versions of the iPhone. And here today, once peaceful squares in once powerful imperial countries are flooded with people waving flags, cheering for one of the warring parties, none of which are in this vicinity of ours. We are not the reason shampoos and nutella are not more expensive in supermarkets, we are not the reason there are no fiery sermons among the religious, the name of the countries from our vicinity are not written in those red treadmills under the worried presenters of world televisions. Our thing is over, we don’t matter anymore.

Although. Maybe we would be a valuable vicinity to some if we held seminars on how to make the whole world not be like we used to be. Kind of like if Robinson went on a tour to explain why people shouldn’t populate desolate and remote islands en masse. But it seems to be too late for that. This vicinity of ours has lost its importance over the years, because in the meantime the whole world has turned into one big vicinity, the same one from which we wanted to escape, and now we have nowhere to go. And maybe the only way to become important again is to reconcile forever, now that there is a danger that everyone will be at war forever.

Regional cooperation, therefore. This is the topic of this new issue of the Vicinity.

And until the next one, what Gaza, what Jerusalem.