#atozchallenge: State of the (European) Union

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The goals of the European Union have morphed. From being the cure to extreme nationalism to a powerhouse economy, the European Union has shifted its targets. Whilst I am a proud European, I also understand the travails of bringing together 28 extremely proud countries with their own cultures, values and beliefs. But there are cracks appearing in the surface, and perhaps they have always been there.

The United Kingdom will vote on its Brexit the 23 of June. I shall be watching this, mostly scared. I called the UK home for many years, and if they remain in the EU, I will call it home again. Many of the arguments in the Leave and Remain camps focus on the economic salvation and-or disaster that might occur, depending on how Britain votes.

Perhaps the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union would do well to recall their original reasons for becoming a Union. Now, more than ever, Europe needs a strong front against the growing nationalist trends in the UK, France and even Germany. Europe is stronger together, and Britain’s grumbling about leaving is shaking the entire Union.

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s challenge, check them out here.

Photo by moerschy

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Je suis Bruxelles: On Fear

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My students watched, numb and quiet, as they let the words from France 24 wash over them. After we watched the international reactions, one of my students said idly, ‘What next?’

I said, in as even a tone as possible, ‘When war or terrorism happens, people in general tend to become more “little-c” conservative [to distinguish from Conservative parties] and a little more insular.’ It was as much as I wanted to say. I talked about the 7 July bombings in London, how London reacted, and we talked about assimilation and culture in Europe. I don’t like using tragedy as teachable moments, but it was important for them to begin processing.

After school, chatting with a colleague, I let bitterness and pessimism take over as I said, “Donald Trump will be the next president, and Britain will leave the European Union.” I felt sick as I said it, as if it were a premonition. I feel sick as I think of it now. My even tone in class had fallen away, and I felt angry, as I never had before.

It is not the time to close borders, to hate and to fear. But we will. It has become the first response to this distress. But I choose to celebrate Brussels and the idea of the European Union which was attacked on the 22nd of March.

May there be no next time. – SDM

Photo by Ji-Sun Yoo

#weekendcoffeeshare: Brexit for Breakfast

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I’m drinking a Masala chai from the Curiosity Shop. My week has been wildly busy and my Saturday is full as well. But now I am drinking my tea and contemplating existence. There’s a lot to contemplate. It’s a beautiful sunny day here, and only 5°C!

I’m going to be a bit personal, so if we were having coffee today, I would tell you how anxious I am about the Brexit. I want to live in Britain, but their leaving would make it exceptionally difficult to get a visa. I am wondering what arguments the British people are hearing, and how much of them feel threatened by the EU. I would also be questioning the fact that, though the EU was supposed to create opportunities for everyone living in its borders, it has just become an economic bloc, and a messy one at that.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am also waiting to hear back about my Master’s application. I have applied to Uppsala University to get my Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. I would be telling you about how I don’t feel qualified or clever enough, and that I’m worried I did the application wrong.

I’d also tell you I’m worried about Super Tuesday, next week, where Donald Trump will perhaps gain even more delegates. I would be wondering aloud how we got to this place. Is America so bad? Are people so jingoistic and ignorant? Americans who constantly say ‘no foreigners’ are quite blind and wilfully dumb: unless we are Native American, we are just as much foreign as the people arriving to our borders today.

This is a heavy chat I’m having today. I would have chocolate for you, to ease the conversation. I hope you are doing well. Until next week, then? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts here!

Photo by condesign

#weekendcoffeeshare: A Weekend Civics Lesson

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Another cuppa then? This week’s tea is a Scottish Breakfast tea from a local tea shop, The Curiosity Shop, which has sadly now closed. Scottish Breakfast is a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Yunnan. I’m a big fan of black teas, obviously. Milk and one sugar, please.

So were we having coffee/tea, I would be telling you about my plans to go to one of the early voting locations to vote in the PPP (Presidential Preference Primary) here in Georgia. I will sadly not be able to vote on the 1st of March, as I have a football (soccer) match to coach. I love voting; it is literally my favourite civic duty. My father doesn’t vote, and my mother, not being a US citizen, cannot vote. I registered to vote the very first day I could, and have voted for everything I possibly can since 2004. My first vote was for the new Georgia flag.

And since we’re having tea, I would be talking to you about the so called ‘Brexit’, or the UK’s planned referendum in June of this year. As an EU citizen with interests in the UK, I’m quite worried about the referendum, though yesterday’s agreement is promising. Will the British people out? Time will only tell.

(I have dual citizenship, for those of you playing the home game. I was born in Texas to a German mother, thus affording me citizenship rights to two countries. I feel both German and American. I will most definitely write more about this later.)

I am not as much of a reader as I used to be, but I have subscribed to The New Yorker and Les Jours, and I have to say, quality journalism is such a pleasure and I don’t mind paying for it. So were we having our caffeinated beverages today, I would definitely be telling you about the articles I was reading, and we would be chatting about celebrity culture along with our political chat.

So let’s have another cup and linger. Until next time? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts in this weekend’s coffee share here!

Photo by Olichel Adamovich