In an article titled “Angry Europeans Look for Direction”1 on the BBC News web site (Saturday, Mar 21, 2009), author Mark Mardell recounts his journey to the various capitals of Europe. It seems there are protests everywhere. In Paris, more than a million took to the streets in a general strike.
Mardell opines: “A little later, in Brussels, the most important politicians in Europe gathered to discuss the economic upheaval that provoked the street protests, the crisis they themselves have labeled ‘one of the most important challenges ever to face the European Union.’ In the end they took a whole host of smallish, detailed decisions but nothing big, nothing dramatic — nothing that you would want to label ‘leadership.'”
But the public’s anger spreading throughout Europe is not only over the global financial crisis; it is a desperate search for leadership. And as the the the problems grow to MacDonald-like “super-size” proportions, so is the desire for a super man (or woman) to solve them.
“In the recent past politicians were seen as irrelevant, now they are perceived as crucial,” the author continues. “These protests aren’t promoting a programme. They are more like a prayer, for benign intervention.” When Europe has largely abandoned God, it seems these are the only “prayers” they have left.
Mardell reads the mood among many Europeans: “They mourn the fact that there is no leader with a map, a compass and a purpose, who can offer some hope that there is a way out of the swamp.”
Ronald Inglehart, director of the World Values Survey, a Swedish-based group that tracks church attendance, comments on the European religious scene: “”The declining (church) attendance is really dramatic, but what is even more important is that the churches are losing the ability to dictate to people how to live their lives.”2
Those familiar with the Bible’s account of the last days, and especially the reemergence of the old Roman Empire with it’s super man ruler will find Mark Mardell’s closing words of some interest:
“As I left the office of the head of the Latvian employers federation she smiles and says “we are looking for someone on a white horse.”
It chills me a little. ‘No more heroes any more’ I think to myself. The shadow of the 30s, bullies in big boots with simplistic solutions, hangs heavily over Europe’s economic woes. History surely isn’t about to repeat itself?
“Yet in nearly all our countries there is a vacancy for someone who understands people’s pain even if he or she cannot make it go away, and for someone who appears to have a clear plan that has a chance of working. As far as I am concerned, those in need of equine support or with a love of uniforms need not apply.”