Today neither the western Europeans nor the peoples of the British Isles are remotely similar to their ancestors of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, indeed not even to those of the early twentieth century. Those people sincerely believed in the religion that their parents had them baptised into. They took the tenets of the books of the bible seriously and often literally. Because they held to their doctrine so fervently, being as it was the revealed ‘truth’, they had no qualms about seeking to convert others to it who did not share the same conviction.
The empire building adventures of the agents of Europe’s monarchs, brought the Christian values and morals of western Europe to the virgin soil of other men’s lands, and thus into their lives. Those European emigres saw nothing wrong in introducing their faith into the hearts and minds of those who did not believe in their conception of the almighty, rather they believed it was their God given duty to do so.
Most of the citizens and subjects of the modern states of today’s European Union may well still share the Christian names as their ancestors and be of the same stock so to speak, but that is about where the similarities end. How an eighteenth century Church of England vicar, perhaps a Rev May interpreted the teachings of the gospels, is light years from how a Rev May shepherds her Anglican communion today. The contemporary churches of Europe suffer from a degree of embarrassment when confronted by the deeds of the long since departed men of their cloth. Trying to square this Christian circle, the duty to convert yet simultaneously espousing notions of liberty and compassion, has become an impossibility. Centuries before not a thought was given to the hypocrisy of Christianising colonisation. God fearing men and women went overseas in the name the Almighty, their kings and countries. Some went to view new vistas, some to save sinning souls and many more to make money, hand over fist, any which way. No heed was paid to the traditions of local people nor to the sensibilities of those communities. The invading aliens in their top hats and tails never bothered to think if they were welcome to turn up and help themselves, never wondered if the land could accommodate the burden of having new, white stomachs to fill. They went because their established states and religious orders made it possible, desirable and dutiful for them to go. Self interest motivated these colonial experiences.
And here we are today in 2019. The old colonies of Africa and Asia have become independent states, being governed by the natives of those lands and the overwhelming majority of the colonising Europeans have long before packed their bags and returned to the green and pleasant lands of their ancestors. The descendants of these European explorers and exploiters have certainly lost the religious zeal and fervour of their forefathers but as the times have moved on, they have also become ashamed of their history. This collective shame has encouraged an attitude to germinate and take root in the consciousness of many in western Europe that because we had behaved like this historically, then balances must be made, accommodations found and our hearts, minds, cultures and borders opened wide to demonstrate how far we as a people have come since the days of slavery, piracy and brigandry.
Coincidentally, what we in the west have ignored as we have forgotten our faith (unlike populations in the east of Europe), is that the people who originate in Africa and Asia have not abandoned their faith. Neither losing it to time nor to science. They continue to believe as they were taught to believe, that the words of their holy books are indeed holy, not subject to be interpreted and reinterpreted according to the fleeting fashions of flitting minds. They have not surrendered the belief in the superiority and righteousness of their doctrines and therefore they have not lost the conviction that it is their duty to promote and propagate it. Whether the believer is liberal or conservative, that urge to save souls by converting them to what they see as being so obviously true, reasonable and correct, is there in their heart. As it was in the hearts and minds of our own ancestors as they migrated, manipulated, monopolised and marauded across millions of square miles of mother earth.
Europeans must understand their history and come to terms with it. They must decide if they have a culture, what it is, whether or not it is worth preserving and whether they are willing to protect and espouse it. They must do this understanding how their culture has been the one responsible for creating the situation that they have found themselves in.
The millions of migrants in Europe will not abandon their spirituality, their economic expectations nor their desire to have families. Why should they? But they will keep coming and when their numbers allow for it, they will make those numbers count.
Unless the western world makes the balance in terms of science and technology, with the second and third world countries that they had looted when they were governing there, then the migrants will keep coming. Unless there is a genuine redistribution of the ownership of land and resources in the developing world, then the migrants will keep coming. Unless Europeans are genuinely willing to reassess how lucky they are and why that is so, then the migrants will keep coming. In their rush to abandon the Christianity of their forefathers, westerners have latched onto many a new idea, many from exotic eastern traditions; ideas like karma. Unfortunately they have adopted these new words and concepts yet they have little or no understanding of what they mean.
Europeans must first look at and learn about themselves if they want to understand the nature of karma, and they must remember their history to understand their present predicament and the future of their children.
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