Europe’s unconscious (if one may put it like that) still preserves the traces of a vocation to mediate the human that we all have in common and to do so through her ability to integrate the differences between peoples. It is a vocation that the West has gradually repressed during the course of the second millennium and one that the events ushering in the third millennium are forcing Europe to rediscover (if she does not wish to bring her history to a close all by herself).
It is Christianity that, despite all history’s inevitable contradictions, has been the inspirational germ of this mediatory vocation, moreover. Christianity weathered the crisis of the Empire that sought to destroy it. It brought to bloom in Europe the seed of a universalism of closeness (both God’s and men’s) that gave a completely new meaning to the virtual humanism both of the Greek logos and of Roman citizenship. Europe’s moral dismantlement after the fall of the Roman Empire found an opening in the new European rearrangement of peoples occurring through a unification that was centred on Christianity (following a liquefaction of the ancient unity and the fragmentation caused by new waves of migration). And when, during the developments and upheavals of history, the conflictual drive existing in politics and religion (and within Christianity itself) was on the brink of disintegrating the bond between peoples, the Christian faith’s (ethical and universalistic) reserve of humanism always found the strength to re-launch the conditions for a possible rearrangement.
Under Christianity’s influence, the suffering of populations has gradually become both a fundamental reason for finding political solutions to conflict and a founding dimension of civil culture’s legitimation. It is along this axis that European civilization has grown up and developed its distinguishing features.
[This article is published in Oasis no. 24. To read all the contents buy a copy or subscribe]