Excerpt: Values and Identity

United we stand


Roughly six per cent of the world’s population is located
within a 1,000-kilometre radius of the Czech capital
of Prague. The only regions where we find a higher
settlement density are large-scale conurbations in China
and India, each of which is home to some 15 per cent
of mankind. What this means in effect is that Europe
is the world’s third most important population centre.
Europe’s cultural and political diversity, the rivalry
between its rulers, states, and ethnic groups — these
were the sources that fed into the continent’s economic
and artistic development. Since the colonial period,
emigrants and their descendants have found inspiration
in the old continent, admired the achievements of its
civilization, imitated the fashions of its art and intellectual
culture, for the most part without reaching the level
of the “original”.


However, Europe’s blessing, its diversity, has at the
same time been at the root of most of its conflicts.
Centuries of discord and bloodshed show that a rich
cultural heritage offers little protection against violence
and self-destruction — and in the 20th century the continent
became a problem case — first devastated by war
and traumatized by genocide, then rent by ideological
and real walls and barbed-wire demarcations.




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