March 28, 2012
Right now we are in the middle of what my political science Professors would have called a shift in the “world order”, a “change in paradigm” perhaps. A subject that is exciting from the sleepy hazy afternoons of a lecture theatre, where ambitious overgrown teenagers planned to change the world, but gets pretty destabilising when you are in the middle of one, as we are now.
Certainly in Europe, it feels a little bumpy. Job certainty: out the window. Food, energy and housing prices creeping up and a general sense of urgency, austerity and increased hardship. But in Syria, or many other places going through the “Arab Spring”, that dramatic, painful, tortured birth that is the process of moving from autocracy to democracy, is far from “a little bumpy”.
But you see, I have been here before. For many of us Europeans, this seismic shift is not unfamiliar. Not as bloody as Syria, but equally as devasting for some, was the transition from communism to capitalism. It is easy to be complacent about the freedoms and the privilege that we experience and take for granted – we in the Western hemisphere in the 21 century.
Life in 1980s Poland was pretty good too. If you didn’t mind sanctions, food queues, the threat of military police, the fear that your neighbors were spying, the bureaucracy, monetary, and state control, and then things became terrifying with a new world, with new rules and without the familiar, ever-present state support. For many of us Europeans, the Second World War did not finish in 1945. It finished in 2004 when Europe was united once more.
Don’t get me wrong, ten years in Brussels and I can give you a list the length of my arm of things that I would like to work better in the “EU”, but my commitment to the project is unshaking.
60 years of peacetime in a land that had seen millennia of war. For the first time in history, we have had three generations born in peace, who have never experienced famine, who have been free to be educated, to own property, to enterprise, to control their fertility, to choose their partner, to have confidence in their children’s future. 500 million people, crossing languages, cultures, religions, coming together successfully to solve these basic human needs that we have struggled with since time began.
Together, we are stronger, in our diversity are united. War no longer threatens our continent and it is the European Union, its foibles, bureaucracy and stability that binds us in our security and human success. The challenges we face today are no less important, but I refuse to believe that our best days are behind us. This vision in worth fighting for, many millions lost their lives, many more worked hard to bring peace and prosperity to future generations.
Maybe our ails are the sign of age, but with age comes wisdom and perspective. And right now, Europe needs to get back up of her knees, hold her head high and remember that she is standing on the shoulders of men who dreamed of the end of war, famine and discrimination, and she carries is her arms the future. A future that is vulnerable, uncertain and absolutely worth fighting for.Author : healthyeurope