Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Last Saturday with Martin Schulz

This weekend, again, I had the pleasure to attend a lecture by Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament. Schulz is from my town so whenever he's around I'm there. I'm genuinely his biggest fan. Now I don't know him personally and I don't want to be ignorant but this man seems like he has his stuff together and actually works for what he's saying which is always a treat in a politician. Never before, however, have I actually had tears in my eyes listening to a politician. Martin Schulz made it happen, this very Saturday. That's probably less his achievement and more my emotionality over the fact I'm still jobless but what an exceptional guy nonetheless.

I like to see someone do something I feel they were born to do. Michael Jackson was born to be Michael Jackson, and he was the best at being Michael Jackson. Or Meryl Streep. There is nothing else Meryl Streep should have done in life but being Meryl Streep. I consider Martin Schulz being that kind of person. He was born to be in the position he is. His talent of speaking, of engaging with people and the interest in the issues he faces explains why people in Europe, not in Germany, or in Aachen, have recognized that he has whatever it takes to be a leader. 

The discussion I attended was focusing on European values and I can only imagine that Martin Schulz' work on this must be very tiring. Especially in Germany we like to complain. What you hear about EU regulations is not how they make Europe a safer place but how a cucumber could not be sold because it didn't have the right EU measurements. It is economic frustration and disillusionment that makes people reject European values all together. But democracy, human rights and the rule of law are just these values too, so Schulz is entirely right that the disillusionment should not cause people to turn away from the core values. 

My answer to all this is obvious. In my opinion communications in the EU are terrible. It is necessary that the success stories of the union are praised over the failures. I am a testament to this. Without the EU I would not be holding my degrees in my hands because my family could not have afforded tuition fees. I grew up in what Schulz called "the most European city" in the world, besides maybe Brussels and Strasbourg. When I was little and found a dime in the street I ran over, across the border, to the Netherlands, less than a block away from my house, and bought myself a Popsicle. I am the biggest fan Europe could have...

What both Martin Schulz and Prof. Christopher Clark who also spoke at the event observed was that values had changed. Post-WWII people were facing much harder trials than today’s Europeans. Yet in the 1950s, when Schulz was born, he said, people understood that they would have to invest hardship into a better future for their children. Nowadays, the hardships are invested into bailing out banks while our kids are still unemployed and have no shot at a decent retirement plan. And this got me! I actually applauded so loud I got slightly embarrassed. Obviously I’m the unemployed person that really shouldn’t be unemployed. And I believe it’s people like Martin Schulz that can work best on eliminating these problems as much as possible. 

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