In one occasion, Aung San Suu Kyi said: “The true development of human beings involves much more than mere economic growth. At its heart there must be a sense of empowerment and inner fulfillment.” That made me reflect on how much of my focus in 2012 was on the economic crisis in Europe and on its effect on different countries and groups. Many discussions with colleagues – from different fields and professions all around Europe – ended with a conclusion that mostly even more disappointment, fear and frustration emerged due to societal dissatisfaction with the different measurements taken by their governments. It was an economic crisis, but not just that. Faith was lost.
In the most wonderful time of the year, it is interesting how we can put our troubles for a moment aside and devote our energy and thoughts on the most important moment in Christianity, the birth of Jesus. In this case I won`t put the emphasis on the religious meaning of Christmas, but on the social behavior. Despite the crisis, people are ready to give, share and love. It is the empowerment and inner fulfillment that Aung speaks about. And it is possible because people stop, move beyond their daily problems or worries and restore their faith.
Now Europe needs to stop and restore the faith. The economic growth might be one of the pillars of strong state, but it`s not based on it. People understand the world and make sense out of it through a system of shared meanings, beliefs, and values; ideologically connotated and culturally consolidated. If we loose the purpose of our joint actions and importance of mutual contribution, everything can easily crumble to pieces even if is in its best shape. We oversee that even then it will be just us left without the foundation of our existence; stuck on a piece of land without the heritage left by our fathers and their fathers who believed in us more than we do. Whatever we believed in – it is time to bring it back, to give it flesh, as God took his place in Jesus Christ. The awareness must be raised that we must give much more, although we think we don`t have much to give; to love as much as we can, although love was never this much restrained; and cherish even the smallest things that can shine a light.
These are also the postulates of the European identity accepted as common values. However, the current situation and interaction represents a very different identity than 10, or 50 years ago. If we remind ourselves why we are European and what does that mean, or even more important – how does that feel, we can face the biggest challenges today. Nevertheless, that is difficult because this is divergent from the national or ethnic identity, it identifies with universal principles and rights. Moreover, it is above the institutions and organizations like the European Union or the Council of Europe where its foundation was laid. They do not – as much as we the citizen of EU – protect our right and privilege to be member of the most meaningful human community which has kept peace and promoted democratic values for such a long period. Its strength depends on all of us. So `the bell tolls` for each of us when the human rights are breached and life is threatened in these harsh times. We should not look for the savior because the savior is in everyone of us.
I will leave you with a Bible verse and I hope all of you will find its meaning regardless your nation, color or religion: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.