Reçu le 19/10/2020, de K. S. via

Citoyen(ne) habitant la commune de 1180 Uccle

Apologies to write in English, but it's my native language and there are some things best said in our mother tongue (as I'm sure many a Belgian can understand)... Ever since the woods have been closed, there's been something that's been bothering me, nagging at that sensibility we all have about principles and fairness.

I live in Uccle and I have a kid with down syndrome. In an ideal world, my son would be accepted at any school, including the one closest to our house. But unfortunately, in francophone Belgium, that's not the case as schools still have the right to refuse a kid with special needs. But with a little bit of luck and a lot of perseverance, my 5 year old found a spot at an amazing school in Ixelles (shout out and huge thanks to Ecole 8, Bois de la Cambre). I'm so grateful that there are people in the education system willing to take a risk and willing to open their minds to expand the concept of education.

To drop him off, the fastest, most direct route is through the Bois de la Cambre. But now, thanks to the senseless closure of the Bois, we have to wake our son up even earlier to make sure we leave enough time to take into consideration the additional traffic. And this is with an average of 30% less traffic on the roads due to homeworking. What happens when people return to the office and traffic patterns return to normal? Will we have to pull our son out of a school where he is accepted and happy? Or will we have to sit in traffic for 40 minutes (one way) to drive 4km to drop him off at school? These are not decisions people should have to make in a free and functioning society.

And that is why closing the bois de la cambre, and if I'm being honest, this whole ideological ecolo movement is scary and disheartening. In an ideal world, the sun is always shining and we can all go about our days on bikes, emitting zero carbon emissions, consuming local, living in our eco-utopias where no animals or plants were harmed in the making of this ridiculously unachievable alternative universe. The reality is, life is messy and complicated. You may have to accept a job far away from where you live because it pays well. Your kid may have a disability which means you can't drop him off at the local school. You may lose your job so you can't afford to buy bio/loco from your closest bio shop. It may even rain, rendering your 20 minute bike commute impossible. This is, after all Belgium.

Unfortunately, messy reality does not suit the ecolos. It messes with their ideology. It doesn't fit their didactic world view. And so they refuse to listen. They refuse to acknowledge that for the majority of people life is messy and complicated. And sometimes you need to take your car because it allows you to get a job that pays your bills. Or drop off your kid with down syndrome at the only school that will accept him for integration. Life is a series of constraints. And the best forms of governments accept this and provide options for their citizens to navigate difficulties as they see fit.

We all accept the greatest existential challenge in the next 100 years is climate change. But if the people in charge are unwilling and incapable of allowing their citizens to meet their basic needs and enact punitive measures on those who attempt to find solutions to meet their needs, we are all doomed to fail.

Closing the bois de la cambre to traffic may seem like an insignificant fight to those whose lives are not impacted. But for those of us attempting to navigate the messiness and make the best of life, it is a punitive measure that says we are willing to ruin your life for a singular goal. And you don't need to be a student of history to understand that the greatest feats of humanity have never been achieved through building barriers and levering punishment. The bludgeon never works. Look at root problems. Improve people's lives. Work constructively. Fight for equitable systems that allow people to find dignified work close to home and put their kids in local schools.

Wielding squandered power to close down roads and issue mandates is for the weak and cowardly. Build something we are all proud to participate in. Even if it takes more time. Be leaders. Inspire your people. Stop being cowards. Open the bois de la cambre. If this is a set back to your movement, you've already lost.

K. S.

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