We Need To Talk About Europe

I am personally attracted to the idea of a united Europe, in part because it offers me the impression that I will have much more possibilities, coming from a slightly poorer country, and that it will encourage development and stability. Romania entered the EU some five years ago but only now I managed to travel the 65 km that separate Bucharest from Ruse in Bulgaria. Like me are many, but there are a great deal who already started families, and new lives in other countries of this union. A century ago people on this continent died to point out their differences. Yugoslavia is sadly a recent example of pointless conflict among people.

We have to think about what kind of state Europe will be, it definitely doesn't have a dominant culture, while it is true that we talk about European culture as opposed to Islamic or Chinese, if you take a closer look at the continent the diversity will overwhelm you. So why and how do you build a state with people largely unable to understand one another. America is often pushed in front in such discussions but we can't compare a country started from scratch around a predominantly English population to a continent ravaged by cultural and national pride.

America is a sword forged by centuries of events, of wars, civil wars, cultural revolutions, civil movements, and so on. People that came to that country embraced American values and culture, a culture which many consider universal with cowboys, blue jeans, rock and roll, jazz, large cars, tall buildings and that had monopolized concepts like liberty and democracy. This is the Hollywood image which worked like a beacon. In reality it has its ups and downs, its crimes and conspiracies. Europe doesn't have the propaganda machine America so intensely uses, it doesn't have a motto like 'in God we trust', the 'united in diversity' statement is as motivating as a stick. The founding fathers which heroically fought for their fellow countrymen, who stood for universal values and promoted justice (according to the "mythology"), don't have a proper equivalent in the European Union.

The Europe that is being built right now is nothing more than an autocratic banking system. If we are to be united in diversity we need to know what unites us. Is it money? Money is something temporary and unstable, one moment you have it, the next moment you don't. Look at Greece, they milked the EU community for every drop they could and now ask for help while enjoying salaries and pensions a couple of times larger than in many stable Eastern countries. Discrepancies are too large in EU countries and conflicts appear. If two people fight for money and are not old (or close) friends, chances are one will kill the other.

I am a supporter of a united European state but some conditions need to be met first.

1. We must know clearly why we want to unite, no dictator is going to force us this time. Either for personal opportunities, an improved global role of the EU or anything that can unite such diverse nations must be clearly stated. Uniting because we are living on the same continent is not a good motive.

2. Can people put aside their differences, prejudices and false nationalism? We place tradition and history on two pedestals and look at them like we look at sacred objects. We need to learn our history not to make heroes and martyrs but to understand the past and take the future into our hands. Regarding tradition we must understand that anything that is being done as a ritual with no profound understanding of it, is not a tradition. With time things change and meanings disappear so it is normal that some actions and beliefs will become obsolete, keeping them alive is artificial. 

3. We should try to impose a new language to act like a unifying layer, this language should be simple and easy to learn by all Europeans and with time it should be promoted in movies, television, radio and music. The reason why I don't promote English for this job is that Europe must create its own new identity. Relying on any language associated with a cultural group and with a history of its own is dangerous and would bring up tensions and nationalism in retaliation.

4. The European Union will survive only if it manages to add value to the world and to every individual. If we want to concentrate on a scientific society, then let's invest heavily in science and make some breakthroughs, if space is our final frontier, then let our ambitions not be trampled by budgetary constraints and build some spaceships. If we want to be close to God, let's get theocratic, if we want a simple life, let's get agrarian. Right now Europe wants to do everything with everyone because it has no backbone and it will end up by doing nothing.

5. We will need a time off and rethink our relation with the United States. After all, "nothing can grow under big trees" (a quote from Constantin Brancusi). We should also rethink our history because there are moments when it haunts us, when neo-nazi groups grow and conflicts previously thought extinct erupt in flames. 

In conclusion I call on all people of Europe to unite and create something beautiful, it doesn't need to be ideal, it doesn't need to be a "kingdom of God on Earth", it only needs to be a country where the main values of humanity are much more powerful than any differences of race, eye color and language. Let's get out of this economic disaster and rebuild this continent on a foundation to last like the Pyramids of Giza lasted for millennia. Let's learn, work and believe in God, in our own personal ways.

[ The cover image of this article is of the new building of the Romanian National Library in Bucharest. It was finished in 2012, although construction began during the communist era. I chose this image because I feel it represents what Europe means for me, a potential state in which education, knowledge and development are cherished. ]

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