Way back in the day, and we’re talking centuries, Europe was a hotbed for the expansion of Christian ideas and philosophies. They were the foundations of European culture, government, and way of life. It influenced kings and empires, dictated the ways of life of millions for centuries. The greatest empire the world had ever known, the British Empire, was built upon that foundation which stemmed back to the earliest days of Christendom. France, Spain, even Germany built legacies on top of the essential pillars of the faith.
Did they lose their way at times? Absolutely. But those foundations were there. They were fighting for something greater than people – they were fighting for identity, for country, for God, and for king. But, beginning late in the 20th century, those ideas were being tossed aside in favor of humanism. The result of this transition has led to social program after social program that has left a lot of Europe broke and on the verge of collapse. Via the Wall Street Journal:
Europe is dying because it has become morally incompetent. It isn’t that Europe stands for nothing. It’s that it stands for shallow things, shallowly. Europeans believe in human rights, tolerance, openness, peace, progress, the environment, pleasure. These beliefs are all very nice, but they are also secondary.
What Europeans no longer believe in are the things from which their beliefs spring: Judaism and Christianity; liberalism and the Enlightenment; martial pride and capability; capitalism and wealth. Still less do they believe in fighting or sacrificing or paying or even arguing for these things. Having ignored and undermined their own foundations, they wonder why their house is coming apart.
The writer, Bret Stephens, goes on a bit later with this:
“It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost the capacity for self-love,” a prominent German theologian noted about a decade ago. “All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure. What Europe needs is a new self-acceptance, a self acceptance that is critical and humble, if it truly wishes to survive.”
That’s Joseph Ratzinger, better known as Benedict XVI. He’s out of fashion, which makes him that much more worth hearing.
Ultimately, what makes Europe’s downfall so imminent is that it does not seem to recognize, as the Left here in America doesn’t, that its their own policies within this modern era that are killing them.
The focus has been placed on the individual in such a shallow way while ignoring the individual in a deeper, meaningful way. They focus on how we feel, what we do, and how we can be fair to one another. Meanwhile, they ignore the very basis of humanity. The need for something greater than ourselves to believe in. The need to be part of something greater.
Big government types love to tell us that we can belong to the government, but the government is shallow. It, too, focuses on the shallow person, not the greater person underneath. It cares little for religious liberty because religion can offend you. It says “belong to us, but don’t claim a national identity.” You’re not American, you see. You’re not British. You’re not French. You’re not Spanish or German. Your identity comes from your race, sexual orientation, gender, or whatever else we can think of. But we never belong to a nation.
That has to change. In Europe and in the U.S. It has to change because society can not build deep and lasting foundations on things that are so shallow.