Only when they have warmed up to the idea of Europe as a single country, comprising many complementing elements, will a European union succeed.
Brexit is just the beginning. When nations that have been at odds with one another for centuries are forced into a union, there needs to be a deeper motivation to connect than the desire to form a counter force to the economic power of the U.S. and China. Absent genuine desire to unite, any union is, by-default, fictitious, oppressive, and short-lived.
Insights from Provence
In 1993, my brother suggested that our families take a joint trip to France. I thought this was a good idea, and so we spent much of that summer touring the cities and beautiful countryside of France in a rented van. As much as I enjoyed it, my most vivid memory of that trip is the vigor with which the French government campaigned in favor of joining the emergent European Union (EU). Signs on the sides of the roads, TV ads, radio programs, interviews with politicians—everything and everyone seemed busy persuading the French people to opt into the union.
This baffled me. Clearly, the only ones who would gain from this union would be the major banks and mega-corporations. I could not see why the French people would want to bind themselves to the Germans, whom they clearly disliked, and relinquish so many of the freedoms enjoyed by a sovereign state. The elusive promise of economic stability and peace simply did not seem like a reason people would fall for. But fall they did, and even sealed it by incorporating the Schengen Agreement into the European Union law.
I was not convinced. I could not see then and I cannot see now how an alliance that so fundamentally conflicts with human nature could ever succeed without long term and thorough preparation for connection. This is why in my view, unless a revolutionary shift takes place, the European Union will fall apart. It is my hope that disintegration will happen sooner rather than later because the longer it takes, the more painful it will be for Europe and the rest of the world. I think that the UK did well by voting in favor of Brexit, and the sooner other countries follow suit, the better it will be for everyone.
On the Connection between Brexit, Human Nature and the Human Body
The European countries had been in a state of cold or active war with one another for centuries. The previous century alone saw two world wars emerging from it, in addition to numerous local conflicts. Additionally, the economic gaps between the richer and the poorer EU states are so monumental that the latter have become completely dependent on the former, creating structural imbalance and persistent discontent among many of the EU member states. True union can happen only when everyone is equal, rendering the current structure of the EU unsustainable.
To understand the profound transformation required to make such a union last, think of the human body. In our bodies, each cell and organ is completely dependent on the rest of the body. Each cell “knows” it derives its vitality from the rest of the body, and therefore has a vested interest in maintaining the health of the body. The cells maintain their cohesion because their unity provides them with a vital force much greater than their own. This force connects them to the vitality of the entire organism and turns them into a single system whose elements choose to remain in it.
The intricate collaboration that exists within the human body did not emerge overnight. Billions of years were required for organisms to evolve from cell-colonies to simple organisms, to plants, animals, and finally to humans. At each stage, the cells and organs learned to function with ever increasing synchrony.
Yet, on the human level, where consciousness and social psychology take the helm of development, we still behave like primitive cell colonies. We have yet to learn how we can benefit from one another through mutuality and how to connect to the vitality of the entire human system. Even within countries we are struggling to maintain peace and stability, so how can we ask people to put hostility aside and unite with nations that, until recently, were regarded as staunch enemies?
The forming of the EU clustered diverse nations together in stifling confines and allowed its stronger members to force the weaker into policies they did not want to accept. Take, for example, the resentment against Germany that the immigration crisis has aroused all over Europe. There is no doubt that one of the main reasons Britain voted for Brexit is that Britons wanted to regain control over the immigration policy rather than having it dictated to them. Britain was strong enough to opt out. Other countries haven’t the power to do likewise and so will have to continue to put up with Germany’s dictates. This will not last.
Forming Positive Connections
My teacher used to say that love is an animal that feeds on mutual concessions. Without indoctrinating people into the benefits of positive connections, the EU countries will not be able to make the necessary concessions to remain connected. Instead of love, they will enflame the deep-rooted hatred that exists beneath the surface until the whole structure falls apart in a blast strong enough to begin yet another world war.
If the European nations truly wish to unite, they will have to gradually come to think of Europe as a single nation. Only when they have warmed up to the idea of Europe as a single country, comprising many complementing elements, will a European union succeed. Back in 1993, I did not see this indoctrination happening, which made me very skeptical about the success of the whole endeavor.
Just like our bodies, all of nature is evolving toward tightening connections. However, we can choose how we want to come into that cohesion: through eruptions of hatred and war, or by cultivating mutual understanding, camaraderie, and appreciation.
Featured in The Jerusalem Post