No. 41




An Alarm Bell, not a Church Bell

The Editor-in-Chief’s column focuses on the lessons of the crisis, and the opportunities arising from the crisis.

People and countries were able to pull themselves together and to subject themselves to the harsh conditions of the emergency situation. One of the main questions was whether the structures would withstand the pressure. Will families come out of this crisis without losses, can we keep our jobs and homes, will the Estonian government manage handling the life after the crisis, how many bankruptcies will there be, will Europe be able to go on in spite of the crisis and Brexit, and has the world now changed irreversibly?

The structures endured, and today it seems that there is also something good to be taken along from these strange times. New skills, certainly. A great number of those who work with computers suddenly learned to work with new tools they had been sceptical about earlier. We also learned that those tools were not really equal to working with human contact – they take more time and energy, and the result is poorer. However, it is perfectly possible to cope this way for a short while.\

Keeping in mind the focus topic of this issue, the European Union, the Editor-in-Chief also reflects on the reasons why we as citizens tend to have a passive relationship with the European Union. Why do we identify with the European Union mainly through civil law terms, mostly as contracting parties, natural and legal persons, employees, consumers, etc. At the same time, when we use the term “Europeans”, we see ourselves above all as bearers of culture, and we think of the spiritual heritage of Europe. Besides freedoms and rights, and maybe even beyond them, belonging in Europe is first of all a cultural feature, and to perceive this is a part of the identity of a cultured person. Starting from Gustav Suits at the beginning of the 20th\century, and continuing with Jaan Kaplinski and Tõnu Õnnepalu today. The European culture is the culture of strong nation states. This is how it has been, and this is only natural. Few cultural phenomena define themselves primarily through Europe, as “European culture” events.

Europe and Estonia got through the crisis of the spring 2020, but we need to start preparing for the crises that are to come. What we heard was an alarm bell, and not a church bell.