Last week I was in the occupation museum in Riga. I was walking through the exhibition, looking at pictures and videos which show how the latvian people were treated in the 20th century. I look at unbelievable numbers of dead people. I read about terrible methods the Nazis and the Sowejets used to oppress the people in Latvia (and of course in many other countries).
The most terrible thought in my head is that I know that this was only a small part of the horror that took place in europe in the last centuries. Millions of people lost their lifes because europe was seperated and the single countries mostly had no intention to work together. Their mind was ruled by the thought of power and superiority.
All this happened in the middle of europe. Somehow I cannot imagine that it was the same europe that I live in now. It’s like I am living in a different world now.
I can do so many things even my parents couldn`t even think of when they were in my age, although they grew up in relatively good times. But still, europe as we know it today was just in his development, the WWII was not resolved yet and many countries still had to suffer because of the consequences of the horror that took palce in europe. Besides, one half of europe still experienced this horror in the Sovjetunion. Many people lost their lifes because they were not supposed to be free or any kind of critical. Only 30 years ago, most european could say that they live in a democracy.
Nowdays that is unquestionable for us. Young people go abroad, meet new people, gain experiences, are able to share their honest opinion. Europe in its current way gave me the chance to do volunteering with the EUsolidaritycorps which is an amazing experience for me.
It gives me the opportunity to develop my personality in many directions. I meet people from different countries and cultures which has a huge influence on myself. It makes me able to look on certain issues in different ways because I listen to different points of view. I am growing with every experience I get. Cultural exchange and the things I learn abroad are a sign for how much europe changed in the last decades.
It made me remember how lucky I am and how thankful I should be to live in the modern europe and that I am privileged to be able to gain these experiences. It made me realize what an achievement from for the people in europe it is to created the europe we live in. It is normal for us to live in democracy and freedom, to be able to share our thoughts and opinions and most importantly to live in peace.
Mavbe sometimes I take all this for granted because I didn`t experienced really bad times. I never had the problems people in (too) many countries had and have to face.
I have the luck to live in wealthy and peaceful times how they never have been in europe before. I coudn`t be more thankful for that because I know how many people have to suffer in a way I cannot even imagine.
Europe is strong, at least a big part of it. It is important that the countries who are more rich and powerful than most other people in europe ( and the whole world ) use their possibilities in a good way and for the european idea.
Standing together, solving problems together, helping people together and sharing a life full of freedom and peace together. That is called “The european idea”.That`s how europe should look like. To give anybody the chance to think positive about europe. To give us the chance to feel secure. And to give ourselves the chance to look into the future, not in the past. We shouldn`t forget our past. It is not possible to forget the horrible things happened in our past. But it is possible to deal with it an appropriate way. To learn from many, many mistakes we did and still do. Not only should we think about it but talk about it. Accept it. To create a united and equal europe where people are open-minded, tolerant, don’t care where somebody is from and live together in peace.
In the past many things went wrong in europe. Many people showed us how not to do it (especially the people in my homecountry Germany). In the moment not everything is perfect and some people remove themselves from the basics of europe again by referring only on the own nationality as the most important thing (God knows why). However, the majority of the european inhabitants want to it in another way.
Europe is more than just an idea. It is a way to live and think. Open-minded behaviour and tolerance are the most important terms in that context. I am glad and really thankful to have the privilege to be a part of it.
I am proud to be european!