Comunicating Europe: the third way of realism

EU elections and the media: beyond skepticism and pessimism

In a Europe in crisis of identity and vocation there exists, as an alterative to the path of pessimism and scepticism, the narrow road of realism. It is not well marked in the topographical maps of thought and communication. And, on the other hand, it’s a demanding course, while those who initiate it don’t always have a clear picture of unfolding social, political and cultural factors.Even for the media, a three-path option emerges a few months before the vote on the renewal of the European Parliament. The outcomes of the elections will represent a strong signal, whether positive or negative, for the future of the European Union and for the equally important European countries that thrive and develop outside the common border, as well as for the rest of the world.The elections to be held May 22 to 25 should not only be presented as a political issue pertaining to the EU alone. They should represent a news item that concerns and affects only a part of the old continent. Moreover, they invite us to “go beyond”, and the requested outlook entails an additional amount of responsibility for those who wish to communicate Europe along the road of realism.However, something more than that is at stake emerging from the political and cultural debate underway in several European countries such as, for example, the signals coming from Ukraine, Serbia, Greece, Turkey. These are the very questions raised by the rest of the world, especially from the more hurt and humiliated countries, different questions, some of which are disturbing, but which all converge at a crossroads, where the EU public opinion has stopped a long time ago: are we at the end or have we reached the metamorphosis of an experience that is unique in the world, struggling today more than ever before with its successes, its failures, its strengths and its weakness?Realism is thus required. A rigorous analysis of the European identity crisis, which would hence give rise to a strong thought, consequently triggering a cultural and political change, is urgently needed. It is necessary to indicate a creative and concrete response that can only come from the ability to combine memory with the project, the past and the present with the future. We need more men and women that can live up to the challenge, and that goal is not impossible to achieve.For Christians living in Europe, and also for the average European Christians, it means to explain the reason for that hope that in European history has allowed us to achieve goals previously thought impossible after so many tears and sorrows. Why should that hope not allow us to achieve goals deemed unthinkable in the path towards the future?Here lies the realism, which is not only Christian. Jacques Delors, in a speech addressed a few years ago to the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, said: “Today we need to replace disenchantment with hope, inferiority complex with self-confidence, resignation with the desire to build a better world.” It is a message also to the media and, more generally, a message of information and communication.It is certainly not easy to turn Europe into good news, and for well-understandable reasons, some of which are quite reasonable and acceptable considering the current technocratic and nationalistic drifts, thereby acknowledging the absence of a pedagogy for Europe along with the “lessening” of a joint project with a single currency. But the stakes are too high to stop at the – albeit legitimate – emphasis on errors and fragilities. It should be an effort of creativity even on the part of men and women in the realm of communication. A further weakening of Europe, if not its collapse, would be no good news, nor would it be an answer to the need for a better future for European citizens and for citizens in the rest of the world.Thus, even for the media there is a third way. It’s that very realism that isn’t visible at first sight, especially compared to the paths of pessimism and scepticism which, as history has shown, have clearly led to indifference and disengagement, thus to nowhere land. Is it asking too much to ask that communicating Europe take place along the third way, following the road based on “a genuine culture of encounter?” Pope Francis’ invitation to “understand communication in terms of proximity” is an encouragement even for those who wish to communicate Europe.

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