Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ariel and Caliban: A Trans-Atlantic Anti-Love Story

Europe has come a long way since the middle ages...
Since medieval times, Northern Europeans have gradually grown less cruel, less violent, and more self-restrained. As society became more complex, it rewarded people who were more diligent, prudent and mild-mannered, and punished people with poor impulse control. ([Harvard psychologist Stephen Pinker's] book on this subject, The Better Angels of Our Nature is essential reading.)
He reminds us that only a few hundred years ago, people tortured animals for fun, disemboweled criminals in the public square, and displayed the heads of their enemies on spikes. Murder rates were 10 to 50 times higher than they are today." (Margaret Wente - Globe & Mail)
That goes for Canada and the US as well.  We enjoy lower crime rates, more enlightened behavior, and everything else that goes along with a happy society.

Pinnacle:  Nowhere to go but Down

The United States should get a lot of credit for this.  We encouraged European liberalism and pacifism after WWII, and we succeeded.  Too well.  The liberal Europeans lounged under our security umbrella while cursing our ultra-conservative bellicosity.  But we kept the peace, dammit, and it allowed Europe to blossom and flourish in all its idealistic, altruistic glory.

Europeans grew urbane and soft on their beautiful old continent, and life was a dream.  Their governments contributed to global charities, Europe's good people warmly dilated on international solidarity and brotherhood as they interred Thomas Hobbes along with Jesus Christ. It was the end of history, no need for anachronistic militaries, restraining dogmas...

But now, Europe rubs the reverie from her eyes and awakens to the peal of the bell. Is it a tocsin, or a knell?
"If we want to keep the freedom of movement in the European Union, we have to protect the outer borders.'' Peter Szijjártó, Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
If you're going to be soft on the inside, you better be hard on the outside, or they'll eat you alive.

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