The role of the arts in a Europe on the way to integration. A debate on social and cultural issues with political implications. Fifth Symposium August 5-12 1995, at the SBI, Holland.
The progress of society does not depend on technical innovations. It depends on the well-being of the man-in-the-street.
The well-being of people is based on the possibility to live a life with norms, values. This human dignity is the bases for true identity and is a spiritual encounter.
The materialistic liberal worldview has nurtured consumerism, environment problems and the breakdown of society. A rebirth is needed to strenghten norms, values, the need for a good family-life, community-spirit, fellowship, compassion, agape. Here is a role for education, governmental measures, curriculum of schools, churches and other groups of people.
Not what you possess or have achieved makes you a true human being. Identity comes from who you are. This underlines the need for possibilities to develop yourself.
The breakdown of families, and the rise of crime go hand in hand with the rise of the believe in the human ratio. But the ratio is not the birthplace of values and norms. True norms and values come from transcendental experiences, which are eternal. A community cannot exist without a form of shared belief-system.
Modern philosophy shows us the loss of meaning and direction, as Proverbs says: "without vision, the people will perish". So all people of good will should work towards a new vision for the future. Christians in general should not try to revive the past, but should be inspired by what is coming: the promise of the Kingdom of God based on truth, justice, beauty, peace, harmony, compassion. So the challenge is not restoration but reformation. This new reformation (first of the mind, second the persons life) can shape the future.
Education, teaching the churches, the arts should be supported to be the actors in the civil society to confirm public justice, norms, values.
Most states in Europe put a lot of time and money in giving technical education, so they may win technical competition. It seems to be good for employment. But it is a technocratic view not fulfilling the true spiritual needs of the people. It is strongly recommended to invest as well in creativity to become whole persons.
Europe on its way to integration has a future as pluralistic society. This is not the same as pragmatism/laisser faire mentality. A pluralistic society is possible when the various ethnic, regional, national people-groups consist of persons who are whole. Wholeness comes from inner-healing, inner-conviction of norms and values and so allowing space for the other's identity. The result is acceptance and tolerance. This is the cure for racism and nationalism, hate and war.
The arts, education, politics, unions, media and the various christian bodies/churches are called to create bridges of understanding, reconcilia-tion. Here is one of the sources: do to others as you want them to do to you.
We recognize the vibrant promises of the youth and their cultures. In a next symposium this phenomenon should be addressed. Understanding youth and their cultures may avoid conflicts and should help to integrate those forms of energy and visions to renew the cultural climate.
In a subsequent symposium the pluralistic society and how minoroties can add to and enrich the culture instead of being threatened, should be a subject of debate.