Our national capital correspondent Tuan Jim sent us an email with his thoughts about the current political situation in the United States and Europe:
The more I read some different postings from people, I have to wonder if Europeans share the same definition of “civic virtue” that we traditionally use in the US. For a point of reference, I know we have US posters here that are veterans, what about our European friends? I spent four years on active duty with the army in Iraq, Korea and elsewhere. I’m currently in the reserves although I’m in the process of applying to return to duty with a different service. I’ve been considering public service in local politics for a while now as well — but I don’t necessarily see it happening particularly soon — depending on where I get stationed.
I’m very curious if any of our European friends have served in the military — either as conscripts or volunteers? Have any worked in the police force or local government or run for local office? I know that there are many incredibly patriotic Europeans serving their countries in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world on many different missions — I’m curious if any of them are among the regular readers and posters here as well?
I’m curious if some of the disconnect I see regarding personal civil responsibility (at least in recent comments) is due to different experiences regarding public service in one sphere or another. I know that my world view was greatly shaped by twelve living in Southeast Asia, but things have changed greatly since then, and four years serving my country, particularly coming after university, has given me a whole new appreciation for civic duty — and a better understanding of what it means to serve for the good of the body politic — whether or not I voted for one president or another. I know many of the people I served with over the years are among the most politically knowledgeable and civically minded folks I’ve ever met.
I realize that we have come to regard blogs such as Gates of Vienna, not to mention essays by folks like Fjordman, to be exceptionally good outlets of information and opinions on topics that most of us consider do not receive enough or proper coverage in other media sources. That said, how many of us have actually taken the initiative to get seriously, physically involved in our communities? Sure we complain about how the local parties don’t represent us — but do we try and change them — or try to work independently?
A lot of what seems insurmountable on the national level begins at the local level. Simultaneously, we are beginning to see a shift in the balance of some parties in many European countries as well — as evidenced by many recent news articles in the feed. The Danish Peoples Party is gaining votes. The opposition parties in Austria picked up seats. The conservatives in Sweden, Finland and Norway are all gaining popularity as well.
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People across the EU continue to argue against the loss of national sovereignty while still appreciating the tangible benefits that the Union has also brought in more limited measures. The changes we have previously seen and posted on and railed about are not permanent by any stretch of the imagination, nor are they insurmountable in the long run if we just care enough to get involved.
Conferences like Pro-Cologne and the like are a great start, but Cologne itself is a long way (not necessarily in physical distance) from Charlottesville, Denver, Manchester, Prague, Milan, Vancouver, Copenhagen and Malmö. If we don’t care enough to get involved locally in our own neighborhoods, communities, states and even countries, does it really matter?
If you don’t care enough to regularly meet with your kid’s teachers at school with the PTA (in the US) or the local equivalent — how can you complain later about what’s being taught in the local schools? Sure we post articles about other parents complaining about one thing or another — but do we (those of us with kids) take the time to find out what our kids are actually studying and take it up with the local school board — or to the local media if necessary? There are certainly enough outlets interested in publishing stories on controversial issues when they are found.
These are just a few things that have been running through my mind over the last day or so following some of our recent discussions. Hopefully they’ll give us pause as we consider ways to better change our world this next year — one step at a time. Really hoping to hear back from some Euro Vets too.
Happy New Year, everybody!