TEACHER IN RESIDENCE

Rooms with a view

Enlightenment 2.0

What’s wrong with Europe? We used to have self-confidence. We were on top of almost everything: wealth, culture, peace and civilization. Where are we now?

This was more or less the introduction of the speech Jan Leyers gave in the Flemish Parliament yesterday for the annual State of the European Union.

Jan Leyers is a versatile media celebrity of Belgium and for one of his projects he made a series of documentaries about a 3 months travel through parts of Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union. He spoke to many people and asked them about their perception of Europe and the Europeans.

Europe is still respected in the world and attractive for its wealth and values. On the other hand there is also criticism and skepticism. Europeans don’t seem to be happy. They look depressed. They walk alone in the street.

Jan Leyers agrees with the latter. We are the victim of internal attribution, always looking for personal perfection. Europeans don’t focus on what they have, but they focus on what they DON’T have. Moreover in this postmodern era we don’t believe in big stories anymore, but we create our own individual universe.

Maybe we can find some explanation in our history as well and in the time of Enlightenment. Reason and critical thinking took over from religious truth. Je pense, donc je suis.

According to Jan Leyers it is time for an Enlightenment 2.0. In the first version man took his destiny in his own hands and this resulted in ideals of more and more and more… More economic growth, more perfection, more of everything. The ideals of Enlightenment ended up in je dépense, donc je suis.

We must change the way we look at the world. It is time for a new European mentality in this changing world. After all it were the Europeans that invented romantic love and abolished slavery, Jan Leyers said. Maybe the Europeans could be the frontrunners for this Enlightenment 2.0 as well.

Europe’s critical thinking could change this world for the best.

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