In troubled times, Europe asks: What does being 'European' really mean?

From islanders on the front lines of the refugee crisis, to those living in Europe’s biggest metropolises, to those tucked into rural communities far removed from the politics of their capitals, many feel that the European Union is at a crossroads.

Galaye Gueye, a tailor in Paris, France

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Galaye Gueye, fashion industry, France.

His country could see far-right leader Marine Le Pen make it to round two of the French presidential election in 2017, a prospect that grows with fears of terrorism also fueling fears of "others."

"I come from Senegal. I have been in France since 1984. Today I have two identities. But if you are African and you say you are French, they always say, but from where?

"No, it doesn’t bother me. It’s normal, you know. Because we are not originaires. My children, on the other hand, it annoys them. My children who were born here, and who are black, are always asked, you come from where? Me, before I was proud to say I came from Africa. My children, like the Arab children, they don’t want people to say that they are foreigners. This is the problem in France with the new generation. There are many Africans who feel these divisions, but I don’t. I have lived here for a long time. I feel I belong to the European Union. But I feel more French than European."

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

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