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Responding wisely

Thomas BucherMany Europeans are concerned or even anxious. For a good number of Western Europeans life has become more difficult. Things have not gotten better for quite some time. Empty promises!? And likewise for many Eastern Europeans the anticipated changes have not happened. Disappointment has set in and reasons are being sought. The future which looked bright and seemed to get better all the time has not delivered what was hoped for. In fact, there are many threats around which seem to indicate distress and maybe even disaster. Who is responsible for all of this? There have been 70 years of peace in Europe (not for all but for many). Suddenly times look different Wars, civil unrest and terrorism are daily in the news. How much will this (keep) affecting Europe?

Easy answers!

Politicians who promise peace and prosperity have been gaining influence in Europe lately. In the next two years there will be 17 major elections in Europe. It looks like what many call National Populists are going to win many more seats. National Populists claim: We speak for the silent majority of the people. We work for the betterment of the exploited. We fight against the disconnected elite. And in Europe they claim to know the root of the problems which are: the many refugees and migrants who just want to grab some of our hard earned wealth; Muslim terrorists; EU bureaucracy etc. These politicians also have answers: Shut the borders; make our own nation great again; implement more law and order; more power to the leader etc.

Easy answers?

National Populists do connect to real fears. And with their easy answers to complex problems they strike the right cord for many. However, as usual, life is not that simple. At the end of January, a group made up of European and National EAs and the Schuman Centre wrestled with these questions in Amsterdam. We tried to frame the problem and how we could help our constituency to engage. As Christians believing in the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew 6) we are called to be radically different to the world around us in our response. But what could that mean? As a first we will be producing a set of materials addressing the issues from various angles using different channels of communication. Ultimately we would like to come up with a database which would help Christians to engage with the questions on various levels and should help our members to come to deliver good materials to churches.

Not new

We realised that the present setting is not new. Christians have wrestled with crisis every now and then throughout history. There are great stories of blessing but there are also stories of tragedy. The Church at times has lived up to its calling and sometimes really failed. Let us pray and work that we will be a blessing to our nations at this pivotal time. May wisdom from above be with you Thomas Bucher EEA General Secretary PS The term National Populism is used in various ways. Therefore, we should always be very clear in our communication. PPS We will be developing an assessment tool which should help to spot when national populism turns toxic. The goal is to have a popular version of this tool and another one which will give more background and also links to resources.  

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