The French voted "non," the Dutch, "nee." In response to these referenda results, the European Union (EU) has agreed to pause for reflection on its journey toward a constitution. In the meantime, the British government - about to take over the EU presidency - has announced an aim to push for far-reaching reform. Ten nations are just a year old in EU terms, yet others, knocking on the door, aren't welcomed.
European unity? Is it realistic in our lifetime?
The cafes I frequent in London answer, yes. Baristas and customers alike include Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, Spanish, and others. As a proud Brit, and also proud European, I love it. While politicians conduct negotiations, I bask in a European unity already acted out in the British capital.
My sense of European unity as a fait accompli goes further than the ambiance and company of European cafe society transplanted to London. I bask in spiritual unity, too, which I see as being already (indeed, eternally) established, including all humanity. It is a unity of and with God. "All humanity" includes, of course, all Europeans, - pro-European or Euro-skeptics - whether they favor a market or a social justice emphasis to unity.
This spiritual unity is one I recognize in prayers affirming the oneness of God - and God's oneness with all creation. If every man and woman is a spiritual identity at one with the Creator, as the Bible teaches we are, then that individual identity must be, and is, at one with every other identity. Spiritually, then, we are united in divine oneness with God and each other, Europe-wide and worldwide.
Seeing this clearly doesn't negate the need for political and economic progress in practice, but it can support such progress. Spiritual vision dawning in any European's thought - or in any interested observer's thought! - can assist the coming to light of the creativity, wisdom, and vision requisite in European leaders and bureaucrats and, indeed, in the citizen voters. The requisite wisdom and vision are already present, freely provided by the divine Mind, God. They don't need to be produced by human ingenuity.
This vision can help highlight the presence of the inspiration and guidance of the divine intelligence, to reveal - and help dismantle - barriers that obscure the recognition of solutions. It can also support the courage required to take new ideas boldly forward.
Such recognition of underlying unity, forever established, will not necessarily bring forth an Anglo-Saxon model of union, or a French or German model. It will bring forth that which evidences God's all-embracing unity, and might include helpful aspects from various time-tested models, as well as ideas that transcend historical precedent. It is a prayer of desire for the good of all one's neighbors - regardless of language, religion, and race. And this prayer helps thought penetrate the mist of stereotypes and associated biases. It subdues a "what's in it for me" sense of relating to other nations and unveils a "what's in it for all of us" view of Europe and the world.
Referring to Jesus' experience of feeding thousands at a time when there was enough food for just a few people, Mary Baker Eddy - founder of this newspaper - wrote, "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes, - Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" page 206).
The right shape for Europe, then, is one that blesses all nations equally - not any one over another. From the perspective of a Spirit-supplied Europe, it is impossible for good that doesn't bless all to bless one's own sovereign nation. From Warsaw to Wolverhampton, from Marseille to Madrid, everyone would vote "yes," "oui," and "ja" to a unity that truly blesses one and all.
Such substantial unity is more than peoples agreeing to coexist under a transnational umbrella, governed by common laws. It is truly a unique facet emerging of the universal divine unity that exists forever, in and of Soul, God.
Being universal, that spiritual unity includes European unity, and would remain even if the EU ever dissolved. When prayerfully perceived, though, it can surely bring forth, instead, an inspired expression of European unity in politics, markets, and social justice.