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What kind of Europe do we envision for the future?

Oct 13 2013

What kind of Europe do we envision for the future?
eu flagPolitics-Economy-Values

The following abridged comments were given in different presentations by eminent scholars from various fields at a Universal Peace Federation Conference in Berlin, November 16th and 17th 2012.
“Because we all have a spirit, we all know about freedom, peace, justice, compassion, love and beauty, we all know the difference between good and evil, truth and falsity. It is from these values that we draw our human dignity; it is because of these values that each human has the right to our respect. Europe is a culture; a collection of spiritual and moral values…these values must be continuously maintained, upheld and protected. Europe’s fundamental values are inviolable. They developed over 2,000 years of history, and protect a pluralistic tolerant society from absolutism, relativism and nihilism. Key values are respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Culture is the key. An open culture is seen as the opposite of ideology. It teaches us to see things as other people see them. Without such an open culture there is no empathy, and without empathy there is no tolerance and solidarity. Good society starts with everyone taking part in what makes a good society. Therefore, a key value is freedom of expression. This implies, however, that we must make sure that people are immune to demagoguery, populism and hatred. We should be a community that inspires its neighbours of new ways of living in peace together…Maintaining high standards can only be effective if all parties involved each take on their responsibility to make these standards work. The role of political and others leaders is important in this respect. We all carry responsibility in this process. Because without moral standards there is no hope, no decency, no proper roadmap for a better world.”       

“Quality of life of any person depends to a great and even decisive extent on the quality of relationships in the family. Family life is the most important area of life for any human person. Quality family life is a family life that is freely and personally chosen and decided. It is tender, mutual, life long, respectful, unconditional, irrevocable, intelligent, active, permanent, serious and mature in love and care between one man and one woman. A similar love and care both of them will have toward all their children…Unconditional love is another key point. I love and care for my family members…All people regardless of their life experiences need and want such mutual family love. All persons wish to experience such parental love from both of their parents. Children who experience mature respect from their parents and other members of their family can and usually do develop mature self-respect. Development of proper self respect helps a person to respect other people…Each human person is unique, valuable and important…Parents who are practising marital and parental love, their children are very unlikely to turn violent or disrespectful. Quality family life is a very effective way of preventing poverty, despair and criminal behaviour…and a healthy, positive, progressive and a stable development of Society… There exist successful programmes for the promotion of family life. Such programmes should be supported by governments and international institutions.”
“Europe has been losing its vision and its identity: Considering that its moral and spiritual roots in Judaeo-Christianity were such a major part of the vision that made Europe great in generations past and led to its preeminent role in so many fields, including missionary work, science and technology, global trade, law and constitution-making, colonialism-and so much else…Having a vision to guide it is vital to the development of every social entity-whether an individual, a corporation, a government or an international organization. That vision must be a true one. When we look more deeply at the so-called economic and financial crisis, we can see why its roots lie so much deeper than in those areas and result from a kind of vacuum of spirituality and moral values at the heart of so much contemporary European life…there has been a fundamental failure as to who and what we are as human beings, what is our true identity and how can we experience true happiness. This has led all too many to become beguiled by a consuming materialism which all too easily leads us to believe that if we can only acquire more money, more material goods and consume more, we will somehow be happier. But of course it has proved to be a false dream because patently so many remain so unhappy even after acquiring all these things. More importantly, there seems to be a widespread loss of the sense that human beings are essentially spiritual in nature…to develop the heart and soul and the love we share with others is a truer measure of our wealth, of our worth and of our success than any amount of material wealth or social position can ever be... ‘live for the sake of others’ rather than just for ourselves. Our tendency is to feel that in giving to others we will lose, when, it is the surest way we will gain. We gain for many reasons-because we acquire the inner peace that comes with elevating others, attain a better image of ourselves and create a base within us to receive the gratitude and love of others, as well as the sense of harmony with them that we could otherwise not experience. This is a principle that religion has long taught but which has become increasingly forgotten with the advance of secularism and materialism and the decline of religious observance in recent decades. ‘One family under God’ in which all barriers between members of that human family based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender and nationality could be broken down and eventually eradicated altogether. It means that the area of interfaith dialogue, cooperation and harmony is critical if we are to find a true solution to Europe’s problems. It is very important that the role of religion as a force for social harmony and cohesion be much more fully recognized within Europe’s structures and organizations. It is a great pity that the role of religion in developing Europe’s culture is not more clearly recognized in the E.U.’s Constitution as it should be…before that could happen it seems likely that the religious communities of Europe would first need to unite together far more closely…The E.U. in particular will effectively continue to leave out of account in all its decision making processes the whole realm of religion and spirituality which so many consider to be the most vital areas of all to be included.”