One of the most bizarre land disputes came to an end on July 31, 2015. The governments of India and Bangladesh agreed to an exchange of 162 enclaves between themselves. These enclaves consist of small bits of territory within each other’s borders. Within India’s borders, for instance, there were over 51 Bangladeshi enclaves. They amounted to more than 7,000 acres of land. Within these enclaves lived 14,000 dwellers who identified themselves with India. Yet they were denied such basic needs as water, electricity, health care, roads, and public education because they are technically citizens of another country – Bangladesh. To make matters even worse, travel outside of these poverty-ravaged enclaves was nearly impossible. It amounted to crossing an international border – and few if any of these enclaves had embassies which could issue passports. In some cases, there were “counter-enclaves.” These were Indian enclaves within Bangladeshi enclaves within India. Therefore these Indians were isolated from their own country, yet within their own country.
The same conditions existed in Bangladesh, but in reverse order. Within the Bangladesh mainland were 111 Indian enclaves of 17,000 acres in which 51,000 Indians lived. Like their counterparts in India, these parcels of ground became “no man’s lands,” neglected by the governments that surrounded them.
After 68 years of living in these horrific conditions, the Land Boundary Agreement was finally implemented. Some bureaucrats in the national capitols squawked at giving up territory to another nation. But the enclave dwellers erupted in wild celebrations, parties, fireworks, and religious gatherings to offer thanks for their deliverance from such “painful diversity.” They had had enough of their “tribalism” and gladly gave it up to enjoy the benefits of national unity.
What a contrast to our own situation in America. Here in the USA, we happily seek to divide ourselves between a dozen different loyalties based on ideology, race, color, politics, and religion. We’re all in the same boat and, yet, each group is pulling out a plank for themselves. We pull our boat apart to hold onto a floating piece of wood in the cold ocean waters. We do this rather than stay dry by keeping the boat intact. Celebrating diversity is fine, but not at the expense of our unity. Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”
Dear Father in heaven, please bless the United States of America. Please heal our many divisions and mend our every flaw. By Your Spirit divine, turn our hearts to You in faith and repentance and to each other in love and reconciliation. Forgive our many sins, O Lord, and heal our land. Amen.