Thursday, 23 August 2012

Obsolete Illusions

Today, I read an article which made a huge impression on me. In it the author explores his ideas about France being a narcissistic, nostalgic country with an obsession about its past. For these reasons, the country is more than charming, states the author. Although it acts like a North EU country, its heart and soul are still rooted in the South. Nevertheless, what the author failed to see is the similarities the French have with the rest of the Southerners.

For example, Greece is a nation which firmly believes that it's past more than makes up for what it is now: a near-bankrupt country with more enemies than allies within the EU. However, in a period which spanned about 2000 years the Greeks had formed one of the greatest nations in Europe if not the world: if it wasn't for them we would have never known about Ulysses, Achilles, Alexander the Great, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pericles and many others. The Greeks believe that their history of implementing one of the best forms of democracy that ever existed, or the knowledge their ancestors have brought in the world is more than enough for the rest of the world to be understanding and supportive with their problems. 

The Spanish like to think about an era where they dominated the seas, had the most impressive naval force in the world and almost all new land discoveries were made by them. Wasn't it Columbus, whose Spanish ships were gathered by the financial aid of Queen Isabel who discovered America? Wasn't it Hernán Cortés who conquered the Aztecs and led most of Central America under Spain's reign or wasn't Francisco Pizarro who demolished the Inca kingdom and conquered a large part of South America?

The Italians remember a time where Rome was the world center (after all, "All road lead to Rome") and they were lords of one of the greatest empires that ever existed in the world. Bright scholars from Venice, Florence and elsewhere enlightened with their ideas a period which came to be called as Renaissance and lasted for about 3 centuries. Without them we wouldn't have the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Petrarch or Dante. 

The same holds for the Portugal who remembers the glorious and prosperous times of the Portuguese Empire which lasted almost 500 years (until the independence of East Timor in 2002). During that time the Portuguese had colonies in most of Africa, South America, India, Indonesia and many other Southeast Asian nations which still have residues of the Portuguese in their mother tongue. 

Almost all Southern countries have something in their history to brag about. The only possible exception seems to be Cyprus, where they may only brag about their ability to withstand many conquerors throughout their history and still being able to survive as an independent nation. Nevertheless, the future may be brighter for them due to the natural gas deposits which have been discovered lately.

As the reader may realize, it is not just the Southern countries which have these memories of grandeur. Germany, England, Netherlands, Austria, Scandinavians and all others have certain periods of time, be it short or long, within their native history where they more or less ruled Europe. And all of them, both North and South still have the hope and expectation that they will come to rule it again.

"Greed is good" said Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street. As long as nations are governed by people, and people always have ambitions for more (be it power, money or anything else) disputes between nations will never cease. The only way to fortify the Union is make nations understand that they are one. The Prussians controlled most of Northern Europe until the late 19th century. Now it long gone and its vast area is now divided to include Poland, Germany, Denmark and many more nations. Now there are no Prussians. Only Polish, Germans and Danes.

The same should happen with the EU. We have to understand that we are now united under a common scheme, the Union, which should protect and embrace all of its members, be it weak or strong. From now on we should convince ourselves that Europe, and not Germany or Greece or France, has one history one future and one path which is common for all nations under the Union. The time for rulers, emperors, dynasties and monarchs in both the North and the South is long gone. Accept it.

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