Renaissance represents the revival of art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th to the 16th century. It was a period of European cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” following the Middle Ages. Renaissance represents a revival of or renewed interest in something.
There once was a dream called Europe. It was so sublime, so majestic, so vulnerable that it could only be whispered. More than a whisper and it would have been blown to pieces. And then European Titans, started whispering, one after another – Nicolae Titulescu, Konrad Adenauer, Joseph Bach, Johan Willem Beyen, Winston Churchill, Nicole Fontaine, Alcide de Gasperi, Walter Hallstein, Ursula Hirschmann, Marga Klompé, Sicco Mansholt, Melina Mercouri, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Paul-Henri Spaak, Altiero Spinelli, Simone Veil, Louise Weiss. Their whisper became thunder, and the idea of a united Europe was put forward, centimetre by centimetre, step by step.
In 1992 in Maastricht in the Netherlands, in the country that offered the world the works of Rembrandt and the music of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, the modern European Union was born. The treaty of Maastricht reformed and amended the treaties, among other things paving the way for the single European currency, the euro. The Maastricht Treaty and all pre-existing treaties have been amended by the treaties of Amsterdam (1997), Nice (2001) and Lisbon (2007). All of them have their origin in those very first whispers of a united, peaceful, independent and prosperous Europe, a true home for all the member states that compose it.
Today we are at a crossroads. One direction is to advance forward as a compact block, as a single voice, in unity, a large Montesquieuan democracy. The other direction leads to the dark shadow of the European past: war, famine, destruction, darkness and death. If we cut through all the smoke grenades tossed by the Eurosceptic populists, we see the picture pretty clearly. Closing borders, xenophobia, racism, chauvinism: all of these death riders have deep echoes in our past. The voices of millions of people slaughtered in Europe across history have cursed those ideas for all decades to come.
And now, the ghosts of the past are knocking at our front door once again. The populists hide under different rhetoric and conspiracy theories delivering speeches meant to divide, seed confusion and anger, trying under false pretenses to dismember what has once been strongly united. These actions brought us where we stand now.
So how do we respond? We need to embrace our brothers and sisters and we need to say no. We go out, armed with knowledge, armed with information, armed with love rather than hate, accompanied by the best political counsellor in history – History itself. We paint the new Europe, we vote. We vote for continuous innovation, development and unity.
Europe is facing a series of strenuous challenges, such as migration, global warming, global power competition, the new industrial revolution 4.0 (marked by the advance of machine learning – AI), and an aging population. All of these are potential cracks in the EU’s foundation. Faced with these challenges divided as individuals and states we are lost – united we are a force and we can overcome the challenges. United we are Europe, the continent that gave so much to the world, from arts to literature, from philosophy to science.
It is time for the new Renaissance; we must start in each member state, and embrace the challenges that lie ahead of us. Leonard Cohen, the legendary 82-year-old poet and singer said, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.
Romanian’s fresco painting for the European Union, Edifice d’Excellence
Romania is under a populist attack as well. However, our populists are different; they are trying to destroy the country from the inside by ruining the rule of law and sending far away from the country all the talented people who can make a difference in society. By destroying the socio-economic factors on which Romania can grow, they create a pathway for destruction. In Romania we are aware that the citizens have one single effective weapon against dictatorship, namely the possibility to vote, and express the dissatisfaction with the current system.
On August 10 2018, the Social Democratic Party, (PSD), had given orders to beat up and tear gas peaceful Romanian demonstrators. The Romanian people remember the city of Topoloveni, where regular citizens were arrested by the gendarmes, operating under the orders of Carmen Dan, the Minister of Internal Affairs, and a close friend of Liviu Dragnea, the PSD leader. The citizens remember Targoviste, the first Romanian city after Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship, which was closed completely for a PSD meeting. All of these actions are clear indications of a dictatorship building up. But, hopefully, the Romanians will not close their eyes, this time they will vote.
Citizens have suffered enough abuses, lack of respect and public fraud. The PSD is stealing public funds and are changing the laws so that they can cover the people from the top with impunity. In the last two years since the Social Democrats and their leader Dragnea have been in government, they did nothing but mock the Romanian people and the country’s justice system. But now it is time for the citizens to express their voices, to show that they are free, that they believe in democracy and the rule of law, that they believe in a strong united Europe, which is part of Romania as much as Romania is part of the European family, and not in a Europe that is Romania’s enemy, in the way the PSD tries to shift the public opinion.
Dragnea wants to profit from the wave of populism that has spread in Europe, in order to carry on his plans. If we stay home, if you stay home, the PSD will win the elections and they will use this outcome to permanently cripple the rule of law. Every person that does not go and vote for Europe and the referendum on the rule of law, organised by the President of Romania, gives a vote to the PSD. For example, if PSD has 30 votes, from a total number of 100 voters, they will have 30%, and win. The same number of 30 votes, from a total number of 150 voters, signifies 20%. Every vote counts, every person that participates, can stop Dragnea and the PSD in their plan to destroy the rule of law in Romania, encourage corruption and hit the EU’s interests by sustaining a Eurosceptic government.
Are we the Renaissance artist that will paint the new Europe? Let’s go out and vote, and bring back Europe and its member states to where they belong – the light of the free world.
During the social crisis caused by the pandemic, misinformation works at full capacity, as people are being more sensitive to panic, which causes their critical thinking level to significantly drop, shows an analysis signed by Felix Staicu, co-founder of the educative agency Intel4Patriam.
“During this social crisis caused by the pandemic, misinformation works at full capacity, as people are being more sensitive to panic, which causes their critical thinking level to significantly drop, while the filter through which information passes and based on which we decide whether a piece of information is true or false becomes more loose. We are assaulted by information on all channels, studies, statistics, statements of politicians, of the so-called physicians. At the same time, we are taken by assault on social media by such pieces of information distorted by a solid network of fake accounts and agitators, who use certain well-known psychological impulses that work on Romanians to launch accusations, spread fear and violence in the public space. They manipulate the algorithms of the social networks to increase their popularity very fast and to become increasingly more visible on Feed,” said the abovementioned source.
According to this analysis, in Romania, a topic that is “easy to manipulate with is religion,” which is very often exploited to “induce anxiety and manipulate various groups of the society into attacking each other.”
A new practice of the information war that exploded during this time is to send private messages directly to a person, which messages usually come from persons in the respective target’s agenda.
“These messages have a more powerful effect than the information that circulates freely through other social networks, because the messages that are directly addressed to the receiver, with the urge, in the end, to further distribute them, again, privately, to one’s own acquaintances. These message bet on peoples’ willingness to get involved and show solidarity, but in the end, they are causing more harm than good. These messages can include miraculous cures, such as using the hairdryer to kill the coronavirus or eating various foods or herbs for protection, and they can also include conspiracy theories, such as, for instance: the virus is a biological weapon created in the United States or China or Iran, video statements of so-called physicians, who also urge the people to take certain measures or “prove” that this virus is in fact nor real,” said the same source.
According to the same material, WhatsApp took measures against this phenomenon, by blocking the option to send messages to several persons at the same time, in order to limit the effects of misinformation. On the other hand, very many video clips circulate on YouTube or private channels, professionally edited and subtitled, as they are “meant to be spread as much as possible.”
Intel4Patriam pleads for using critical thinking while underscoring that a misinformation “starts in the title,” when it is “sensation and stirs feelings of hate, violence or division,” the content must probably be manipulated.
“We need to understand that misinformation is not necessarily a lie, but it can take many shapes, such as for instance it can be a combination of truth and lie, an exaggerated truth or something that was taken out of context. A very important step would be to check the sources and to know that if an article provides information without an official source then it has no value. The most important thing that we can all do is to place ourselves under a digital quarantine and refuse to further spread fake news. Only like this, we will be able to stop the excessive spreading of fake news and we can protect ourselves and the ones beside us from such manipulated information,” reads the same study. AGERPRES (RO – author: Irinela Visan, editor: Georgiana Tanasescu; EN – author: Cristina Zaharia, editor: Adina Panaitescu)