For many of us the change of year was an opportunity to take some distance from our working life. Nevertheless, the unrest in many countries painted another picture: people in the streets in France, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia, Poland and elsewhere. Migrants on the Sea-Watch who are not allowed to land on the Maltese or Italian coast, who had to wait so long for a European solution. A political discourse that continues to be poisoned by the fear factor, fear of migrants, of losing, of change, of data theft and so on.
Those were the days: with or without snow, the challenges remain. Positive thinking is needed - but it is difficult as all the ingredients of a larger confrontation loom on the horizon: the fight for global and regional hegemony, the expectation of another financial crisis due to the still untamed financial markets, the ongoing popularity of nationalistic and authoritarian solutions. How can we contain these movements in an age where we have more channels of information and communication than ever before? Do we understand what is really changing in our societies? Can we understand all these shifts and mutations if we still focus narrowly and blindly on growth figures and the failures or achievements of the internal market?
The unrest is the expression of frustration over long-standing issues, and ultimately of what is happening to our social and civic space, as shown by the indicators that we have been warning about for a long time.
But we take no satisfaction from the proof that what we have been saying all along was right, yet no-one paid heed. The challenge now is to see how we can use the European election campaign to draw attention to the need for radical, but peaceful change. Violence is never a good remedy for policy solutions. It creates more division, more hatred, more aggression and is difficult to contain. Reform, not revolution!
If we want to move forward, we also have to look back from time to time to understand the process we are immersed in, to identify the drivers for change. History will tell whether we understood the shifts and signs, whether we reacted rightly or wrongly. There is a need to think and act positively: for the defence of social, human and civic rights, for social progress, decent work and decent life by strengthening democratic processes, structures and institutions and by overcoming the poison of division among those who consider themselves progressives!
As we said at the end of last year, what better way to start the New Year than by joining us at our 16th edition of the 2019 SILVER ROSE Awards. Behind ideas, values and convictions there are actors, individuals and organisations we want to honour with the awards. Thinking positive and giving positive examples for – as we say in European – mutual learning!