29 years ago, I gave birth to my first child. A daughter. The sky was full of stars, which emphasized that my child through me was led into the many possibilities of the universe. I experienced how my body surrendered to the forces of nature and I tasted the possibility that I could die from what I was undergoing.
I did not, but the feeling of needing something that put everything at stake has followed me ever since. Perhaps because giving birth to a child and stepping into parenthood is somewhat the closest you as a human being can come to what we – in the political spheres with great pathos – call the ‘generation contract’.
As a politician you could use the new year to ask yourself whether you can and should put the ‘generation contract’ at the centre of attention in the same way you would as a parent where you want to do everything – as in absolutely everything – for your child.
This thought experiment sounds absurd and blunt. Because, what about the politicians who have no children? And what about us who not only have good parenting experiences and have to live with the sadness that everything for all our children did not succeed equally well? I know. But I believe that it is healthy for us humans, sometimes to put things on the line to get really close to the ethical and moral dilemmas we are surrounded by.
Dilemmas which, on the one hand, represent the eternal challenges of humanity in distinguishing between good and evil, and when to laugh or cry, be silent or speak; but which also calls for us in our time to do something about them. Now. So that the next generation experiences that we are ‘parents’ who react and, by virtue of that, gives hope and inspiration for how they themselves will act when their time comes.
With the enormous climate challenges and their inevitable consequences that are coming dangerously closer week by week; with the geopolitical loneliness the EU stands in the middle and has to deal with itself; and with the extremely growing pressure on Europe’s external borders that is due to overpopulation in the outside world – then it is no longer enough that we politicians takes notice of the generational contract. Much more is needed. We must act concretely and consistently right now. Like when our child cries for food, is about to fall down a staircase or has to be held to get the vaccination that will save it from deadly disease. We must act – not talk.
In that perspective, one can see parenthood as a microcosm boot camp that can teach us politicians to pull ourselves together when it matters the most. Not just us MEP’s. But everyone with a democratically elected mandate is welcome to take part in my New Year’s song. Agree or disagree. As long as you react and take a stand.
Europe needs it. The EU as an association needs it. Our democracy cannot survive the pressures and premises of the outside world if we do not dare to use our values and principles ‘in action’. We must have the courage to show the next generation and the rest of the world the special European ability to distinguish between the right opinions and the necessary actions.
For 2022, I wish that we all dare to put an end to saying that it is the fault of others that x, y or z do not work in my life, my city or my country. Or in Europe, which rightly risks being left without the strong and mutually responsible set of parents that EU’s intergovernmental cooperation is.
This presupposes that we get back on track with the EU as the union of the ‘Europe of the well-functioning Nation States’ and abandon the federal utopia of the super-liberals and super-socialists. Europe is the continent that, because of our differences, has given birth to the values of democracy, the love of the fatherlands and the respect that nothing in this world is stronger than the family who can and will hold themselves together.
The family that keeps up to date and has the courage to change what must not perish in either the individual parenthood or the collective generational contract for Europe, which can and must do much more even in the future we can glimpse in front of us. Preferably in ways where we inspire the rest of the world to do as we do, so that those of our children who travel away from Europe also there can live in peace and freedom.