Let’s try, like Madeleine de Scudéry, to draw a European map of Tendre (the land of tenderness). Europe is placed neither above nor below nations; she is among the nations, all members along with her of the same family. Within the family, the Greeks occupy the place of the founding ancestors. At the origin of our civilization, they loved Europe as one would love his or her great-grandchildren: as troublemakers, but already distant, in thought as in affection. The success of the 2008 Olympics comforted them through the feeling of their capacity to relive their past and primacy. But the identity theft that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is attempting on Alexander the Great, and the little support they sense from the rest of Europe, distresses them. They feel neglected and misunderstood by Europe, their ungrateful great-granddaughter. It even happens sometimes that they feel closer to Russia, their close spiritual and alphabetic line of descent, particularly through their little Cypriot sister turned Russian colony. Italy is the grandmother fulfilled by a prolific and universal lineage. Like Berlusconi holding court in the middle of the photo of the G 20 in The Financial Times and The International Herald Tribune headlines, she is the mamma holding court in the center and at the top of the family photo. The French, having conceived Europe and having given her away in marriage to Germany, are in the role of father. As such, they claim to be guardians of her moral values; if not of her virginity lost a long time ago, at least of her rules of conduct, her priorities, her timetable. It’s not easy to see her leave the nest to lead an independent life. The French love Europe only when she is submissive, obedient to her father. If not, leave her to her own devices: this was the message of the 2005 referendum. In Germany – Deutschland for close friends – Europe finds more than a partner: a husband. After having assaulted this fiancée with a barbarism beyond the concept of human rights, Deutschland settled into a marriage of reason, with the consent of the penniless father-in-law. An ideal, dynamic, newly rich son-in-law, Deutschland loves Europe like a nineteenth-century bourgeois loves his wife: her place is at home, Kirche (church), Küche (kitchen), Kinder (children). The German wife works little, and so does Europe. It makes no difference: the German man/husband keeps watch and makes the best cars in the world. Deutschland is a civilized but affirmed male chauvinist, a giver of lessons bordering on arrogance. The United Kingdom and Scandinavia, like Spain and Portugal, brothers and sisters of France, have one foot in Europe and the other in America. Their expatriate offspring on the other side of the Atlantic by now surpass them in size and wealth. They admire them and can’t help but look at their niece, Europe, with a feeling of commiseration. This second cousin was less successful than the United States, Brazil or even Spanish-speaking America. Europe is sometimes invited to the house but not warmly. Rather indifferently and calculatedly. Torn away from their Russian landlady, the Eastern countries are the adopted children of Europe and Deutschland. They escaped the orphanage, not to mention the reformatory, and were taken charge of by an authoritative paternal guardianship. They put up with it out of necessity, but it weighs them down. Obtaining their financial autonomy will allow them to get out of this thankless age in order to love mother Europe as she deserves. These various typical family roles are not enough to create the family spirit. So what is missing? The Europe of today, which the young have adopted, is the Europe of Schengen and the euro, of travel and exchange. Travel and exchange without borders; there is the base of a new culture to come, the one invoked by Jean Monnet. To create this culture we would need, in principle, a single language. Alas, even if our continent can become Europhile, it will never be Europhone: a common language does not exist. Then let the languages remain: the love of languages is a condition for diversity and exchange; it’s the only possible love in Europe, the only one that can help us escape the monoculture of jeans, T-shirts and McDonald’s. Only polyphony and multiculturalism can make Europeans become Europhiles and fall in love with Europe.
In the savannah of the New World