Hello I’m Simon, I’m a citizen of the European Union.

I’m writing this text sitting in an aeroplane, currently crossing the Alps, returning home from Palermo to the south of Germany. For about 8 days I  participated in a workshop entiteled „Present Continuous“: 43 people of all ages coming from 16 different nations trying to determine Europe by putting down their personal experiences, bringing in the knowledge they gathered and discussing some thoughts about the future.

Participants of the workshop gathered in the convent, Palermo, Spring 2011

Participants of the workshop gathered in the convent, Palermo, Spring 2011

For me thinking about my identity has for a very long time and until now always brought up the strongest connections to the culture of the European countries. There are surely lots of influences beyond that territorial scope but more important: I could never relate to any smaller, potentially national set. During the time in Palermo these thoughts could settle a bit and got contrasted by the work with the others and so I want to write down one more approach to what the abstraction „Europe“ really is about:
As the history of the European culture, its technical and philosophical heritage and present day’s knowledge is inevitable in this attempt, Kant’s most notorious phrase sapere aude was circling through my mind again and again[1]. I argue that it’s an applicable and very appropriate symbol to summarize the most relevant aspects of „European“.

These two words are the probably most short description and also an instruction to being a citizen: „dare to be wise“, get into action and use your mind. Profit from all history which has formed the path we came along into our and at least in the „western“ world very comfortable and wealthy presence. Feel the logical obligation to use what we have got and to free ourselves — over and over again. „Prefer chances to security“ and avoid the „dump silence of Utopia“[2].

Speaking of such „ideals“ it seems compulsive to me to name challenges, omitting them would be self-deception:
To come to terms with my present observation of reality I had to use the word „western“ in the last paragraph, in the headline I actually wanted to put down that I belong to the whole world in general. But as much as I desire this in my thoughts it is not possible; be it because of psychological restrictions, as I’m for example troubling to stay in touch with more than one or two hands full of other humans on grounds of deeper matters or simply because of being limited by means of energy and/or time.
Besides these plain facts of existence there are however lots of men- and man-made obstacles occuring to me. Although least of them really constrain myself[3] I feel uncomfortable and provoked by the injustice and imprudence we find spread out over our globe.

Logo of Present Continuous Workshop

As these thoughts drive me right now and (firmly based on my personal records) I assume that they will go on for a long time I decided to put this text down as a first post on this site. Maybe I will be able to gather more content on this platform, that has already served me as a technical home in the online world for some time now.
So for now and as always… and as it has been for the last days: present continuous!


[1] indeed by reading a collection of speeches and essays by Karl Popper: Auf der Suche nach einer besseren Welt, published by Piper, ISBN-13: 978-349220699.

[2] both lines taken from the poem Ich bin ein freier Mensch by Albert Schweitzer, which I found on a card that serves as a bookmark in the above[1] mentioned collection.

[3] I am trying to stay aware of the fact that I am privileged, already by the sole fact that I was born in a wealthy country and through the luck I had in being raised by parents that had time to care.

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