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European elections: more than a political challenge

Young people are telling us that utopia is not an escape from reality and that the ethics of conviction must be expressed through the ethics of responsibility

Now that faces, programmes and alliances are known, the electoral engine for the European elections of May 26 is at full throttle.

Preparations are under way without the enthusiasm and the felling of trust characterising the elections of 1979, the first election with universal suffrage of the European Parliament, whose president was Simone Veil, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, a staunch defender of freedom and democracy who firmly believed that European unity could restore hope to the young generations.

Forty years have gone by since those elections: too many to be remembered by a society that is increasingly overwhelmed and absorbed by the present times, increasingly depleted of memory, more and more incapable of guiding young people towards the future.
The political scenario of May 26 elections appears to be more ailing than the ailing ones it promises to cure. Thus it fails to fill the void caused by years of weaknesses in the common European journey, nor does it stand as an encouragement to extend our gaze beyond the narrow horizon of national interests.

In turn, cultural contributions strive to overcome the wall of slogans that secludes the bridge of reason, reaping consensus

Against this backdrop it is necessary to avoid giving into feelings of resignation and entrust our utopian dream into the hands of those who mock it with loud and reassuring pragmatism.

“But – states philosopher Paul Ricoeur in ‘Europe and its memory’ – peoples cannot live without utopia, just like individuals cannot live without dreams. In this respect Europe without rigid borders is a utopia, because it is above all an Idea. The very expression describing a horizon of expectations to a certain extent evokes a utopian ideal; by definition, the horizon is what is never achieved.”
Is a losing game to support the meaning and the value of utopia in the face of a politics and a public opinion imprisoned in a present without vision nor future?

“The important thing – is the answer of the French philosopher – is that our utopias be responsible utopias: they should take into account the feasible and the hoped-for, they should come to terms not only with the unpleasant resistance of reality but also with the viable avenues kept open by historical consciousness.”

Thus the reflection is challenging and fascinating at the same time, for it brings thought and action on the doorsteps of the future, towards which the new generations are headed – as evidenced by the demonstrations of the past few days.

Young people are telling us that utopia is not an escape from reality and that the ethics of conviction must be combined with the ethics of responsibility.

Integrating one ethics with another , states Ricoeur, “is a major challenge, it is probably the greatest utopia.”

A great challenge in the hands of young people.

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