It is not hard to see: Europe has become something many have doubts about. The economic situation, but even more the austerity measures that have been adopted as a (failed) response to that are overshadowing the real benefits of the EU. The inability to solve the refugee crisis is but another problem where Europe doesn’t really shine these days. It may thus be hard to motivate people (and ourselves!) to fight for Europe. But fight for it we must, if we do not want to lose all the good things that we achieved during the last decades.
Yes, we are diverse. We come from different cultural backgrounds, different ethnic groups, we speak different languages. We are diverse. But our diversity is our strength, not our weakness. It gives us a wider view when developing perspectives, it gives us a broader set of ideas from which to select those that suit us best. And despite those different languages, we do indeed understand each other. We are diverse. And yet, we share the same goals: peace and prosperity, for everyone living here.
We are diverse. But whether you’re a young unemployed academic from Italy, a worker in Greece or a student in Poland, whether you are living in a modern metropolis like London or some ancient village in Spain, whether you were born here or came here later; despite our diversity, there is more we have in common than what divides us. Demagogues and populists are good at emphasizing the things that we don’t agree on. We must see that we bring to focus all those things we indeed do share. Yes, problems must not be whitewashed. They must be addressed, clearly and precisely, and they must be solved. But we cannot solve those problems each one alone against the others. We can only solve them together.
We are diverse. And shouldn’t that diversity enable us to properly help those in need? For many people in the world, despite the current situation, Europe still is a beacon of hope. They are fleeing from injustice, from dictatorships, terror, discrimination, war; and yes, they are also fleeing from poverty and hunger. Taking care of those people, integrating them, is not something that we should see as a burden. Yes, it is not an easy task, but it is also one that we will benefit from. Seventy years ago, we were the ones living in wartorn countries, in often dire conditions. We had help, and look what we achieved. How can we not help those just asking for the same thing our grandparents asked for back then: peace, prosperity and freedom?
We are diverse. And we are many. For us, Europe isn’t just something that serves the economy. For us, it is the place where we live. For some of us, it is the place where we’re from, for others it is our adopted home. For some, it is the place we want to live one day. And we want it to be a place where democracy, freedom and solidarity reign. Where the needs of each and every one of us are taken seriously. Where we can communicate and travel freely. We have made great steps in the past, and yet, the current situation threatens much of that. The european project might yet fail, sending the continent back to an era of petty nationstates, vying for hegemony.
Yes, the european project might yet fail, but only if we let it. Those who are already celebrating its demise are doing so prematurely. There is yet hope. I surely don’t intend to let them take Europe from me. I will stand in solidarity with those who share the same dream. It is true, Europe must change, it must refocus. Alone, I might not be able to change a lot. But we are diverse, and we are many. I am sure together we can change Europe to what it really should be, and thus save the european idea. It is about time we did.