Right off the bat – as Americans say though I am no American but I like the catchphrase – Mr. Guy Verhofstadt MEP is someone I truly respect and admire for his values and his deep passion in defending the EU. I share that passion but unlike Mr Verhofstadt I only have this minuscule website to do anything else about it.
The thrust of the article – link below – is about how the EU should begin to better communicate its values and what it stands for to it’s citizens; about telling true real life stories of the experiences of others so that people feel more involved and empathetic towards others – I hope I interpreted that correctly. While I do so agree that this is truly one of the main issues facing the EU today; though I would have slightly modified one sentence in the post that read; So speak to citizens directly, not just to inform them but to argue and convince! to something like not just to inform them but to interact with them to exchange ideas/experiences; a minor correction but for me makes a big difference and the reason is quite simple; our views are shaped entirely by our experiences/up-bringing so that’s a point we could all relate to and start the conversation from there and NOT by talking over each others experiences.
That said I believe that storytelling may be a small part of the solution but as we all should know that citizens of the EU (or of the world in general for that matter) are less concerned about storytelling and more concerned about practical actions (not just theoretical and/or verbal solutions/promises) that affect their lives as of yesterday. As the saying goes “a picture paints a thousand words” another should go something like this “a practical/prompt action underlines a commitment to a thousand values”. In other words emphasis should be on policies/actions by politicians – at least for the most part – when it comes to practical solutions to many of the conflicts we all face today; we need politicians who stand up for values (NOT narrow ideologies that divide/destroy) and lead by example otherwise we’re all – and please excuse my language – “screwed” – as we all seem to be at the moment.
As for storytelling as highlighted in the article – though I do agree is part of the solution – this concept should start quite early in the education process in order to build a generation that is immune from being affected by trash politics. Part of this would be ensuring a relatively similar value driven educational system (and potentially increasing/enhancing educational exchange programs something I’ve experienced myself and see their benefit) & cultural experiences for all; one that promotes integration/empathy rather than segregation/xenophobia – want to talk of religious or other ethnically based schools in Europe?? Remember diversity needs a lifeline to work with and starting late by story telling puts us all at a disadvantage.
Just a thought.