The German President Gustav Heinemann once said, when asked about patriotism, that he could love his wife but that he could not love states
(“Ach was, ich liebe keine Staaten, ich liebe meine Frau, fertig!”). So when I was asked if I love Europe I also asked myself whether Europe as a country (i.e. as a state) would be lovable. On the one hand the European Union is as good as any other nation would be so the answer might be simple – no. On the other hand Europe is much more than the political construct of a nation. Europe is the project of more than 60 years of peace after the bloodiest conflicts in human history. It is also more than 700 million people with their languages, cultures, religions, cuisines, music, and much more. Often enough it is less than 100km until you end up in another country with different lifestyles and culture. From the shores of the Atlantic ocean in Portugal to the Ural mountain chain in Russia we have the possibility to experience diverse landscapes – the Alps or the Pannonian Plains as examples – and most of these we can visit without problems. All this is indeed lovable; but really remarkable is the fact that everywhere we go, although not born or raised there, we can find ourselves at home, also because we are not strangers to each other anymore. That is why I indeed love Europe. To preserve this lovable diversity we need to develop our interwoven societies further in a progressive, free, equal, and just way. There is of course much to do. But because Europe gives us this historic chance, I love Europe. We have this opportunity now. We have to use it.
Image “Prai do amado” courtesy of Annabelle Orozco via Flickr, released under creative commons 2.0 attribution.