Imagine Texas finally seceding from the Union as so many have blustered through the years. Lots of planning has occurred, and it takes the United States government a while to figure out what to do.
In the meantime, chaos ensues. You have a civil war of sorts break out inside Texas as those supporting secession and those opposed clash first in social media and then in the streets.
There is a lot of firepower in the hands of Texas citizens, so it gets really bad really quickly. Secessionists control some areas, and unionists control others. People start dying as officials beyond the state try to figure out what to do.
While the hotheads and the young rascals are at it in the streets, regular folks are more concerned about safety. When things get too hot in their area, these regular folk pack up the kids and as much stuff as they could carry in their SUV and head for safer places.
If things really really ugly, these people seek to leave Texas altogether. They become refugees — good, hard-working people just trying to keep their families safe. In short, the best and the brightest in Texas skedaddle.
Professors at UT and A&M with family out of state are the first to go. Students at those universities are right behind them. Doctors, engineers, and other highly educated persons head out, as well.
A Texas secession is fictional, but this is what has happened in conflicted places in the world like Syria. Many of the migrants leaving Syria are precisely the people needed to build a society. A civil war is not just about fighting in the streets and in the air; it is about the future possibilities for a nation.
“Before the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the country had 31,000 doctors,” writes Mohamed H.A. Hassan in Science magazine. “Today, roughly half are gone, many scattered to adjacent countries, Europe, and North America. Uncounted thousands of scientists, engineers, and advanced students from across the region have joined them. How can nations rebuild and progress when much of their scientific workforce has fled? How can they hope to raise farm output, improve public health, or prepare for natural disaster?”
We misjudge civil war if we think it is only about armies fighting. The American Civil War devastated the South, and its impacts can still be experienced in the poor educational quality in the South when compared to rest of the nation.
Civil wars in Syria and elsewhere are human tragedies that have lasting impact. The best way to deal with civil wars is to help prevent them before they ever start, before people start dying and fleeing.
The developing world needs what those of us in the West have in abundance — education, resources, and proven structures. We need to export these more and more if we are to prevent more human tragedy.
And if you are one of those sad few who do not much care for people who are different from you then remember that their problems will eventually become your problem. The world now reals from a migration crisis caused by war and conflict in the Middle East and Africa. We may not call these “little” wars “world” wars, but they all impact the world.