“For the Europe I used to know, ideology was important! Today what counts is numbers, results, statistics… We used to fight for principles, for ideas.”
I can sympathize with Paul’s declaration, but I like to confront him with different perspectives. So I advance:
“I am not so sure ideology is that essential. Look what ideology has done in History: revolts, wars, assassinations and even what the world is today. Don’t you think it’s time to give numbers a chance?”
I truly understand Paul’s opinion, however I am afraid he is more disappointed with what has become of his own ideas than what Europe has become.
“A factory of nothing” is one of his favorite expressions to describe present day Europe, a place where only a few have the cleverness to emerge and profit from a well-behaved multitude of consumers.
Besides sharing some of Paul’s concerns, I have a few of my own. The quality of life, for instance. I couldn’t see happy children. Were they at school instead of playing on the fields or parks? Except for sporadic groups of inconsequent smiling teenagers, I couldn’t see a lot of happy adults either. My mind plays a scene of a couple saying goodbye on a train station. His urgency. Her depressed face. His hand waving. Her arms dead all long the sides of her body. The slow but unforgiving movement of the carriages. The empty stare of her eyes when crossing the train platform. That couple, on a train station, is my idea of modern Europe. Great buildings. Great roads. Great shops. Great loneliness. Great sadness.
I visited different regions of Europe and felt the same. Europe can be historical, beautiful, developed and organized; still, there are important aspects to be addressed. I am talking about the quality of the air Europeans breathe. I am talking about the quality of water Europeans drink and use, about the quality of the available food. It seems to me that the offer of quantity and variety is surpassing the quality.
It was a wonder to me how hygiene is neglected. I had problems with the standards of hygiene in expensive hairdressers and similar public places. I saw waiters openly sneezing in restaurants, straight on the faces of their clients, and an exclusive shop assistant in duty with blisters on her lips, when she should be at home. Things that I never saw in Africa! Let’s say that from now on I shall not be surprised of virus and other complains Europeans have to face.