I will be honest… Two years ago I would not be able to answer what is Europe Day and why is it celebrated on May 9. I guess I thought it is just another day in the calendar which sounds good but has no special meaning.
I was wrong . I think it has a very special and deep spiritual meaning. So, why should I or any European care about Europe Day? Because we should not take the peace and stability and good relations in Europe for granted. The European Union despite all its faults and challenges, especially current ones, was built around a very strong vision.
The man who is known as the father of this vision is Robert Schuman, a French politician and Minister of Foreign Affairs in post-war France. He and a few other like-minded politicians understood that France and Germany needed to reconcile and forgive each other. On May 9, 1950 he read what is now called ‘Schuman Declaration’ which proposed a kind of political and economic union between France and Germany, based on equality and solidarity.
This started a journey which eventually led to European Union with its current 28 member states. My country Latvia joined EU in 2004 but unfortunately many people do not know the original vision of this union. Many people think only of economic gains and often forget the deep spiritual roots of the ‘tree’ that we are part of now.
Robert Schuman was also a deeply devout Christian and so was Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor in post-war Germany. These two men did a lot of the hard work to build the bridge between the two nations which were considered hereditary enemies. Of course, there were many others behind the scenes but without real courage and willingness to examine your own heart, you cannot reach out in forgiveness and reconciliation.
R. Schuman wrote in his declaration, “It may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.”
What is this leaven? Where is the idea of solidarity, equality and being good neighbors coming from? There was a story where Jesus also used the image of yeast…
I am grateful to people like R.Schuman for doing the hard and so often unrecognized work of building bridges that others can walk on. Now 507 million people are walking on this bridge. Let us, Europeans, make this bridge stronger and always remember the vision of forgiveness and reconciliation.