"DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law,"
Blah, blah, blah. The above words are an insertion to the amended European Treaty, signed today in Lisbon by our leaders. I’m not a happy bunny. For a start, and to be picky, the adjective, humanistic, would have been preferable.
But it’s the bigger ideas that bother me. For a start, I don’t share the belief that humans have innate dignity, or that we are born equally and with inalienable rights. It’s large chunks of the American civil religion that we are being asked to believe in, and I don’t. Given that I believe that the ideology of ‘inalienable rights’ to be inimical to Europe, civil liberties, justice, peace and international security, and contrary to human reason, then the Treaty is false to call them universal values, when not everyone believes in them. (Note, too, how it speaks of the rights “of the human person”, which cleverly denies those rights to the unborn.) If the Treaty really drew inspiration from our cultural and religious traditions, it would speak of human alienation, indignity, inequality and enslavement as being our inheritance and the place from which we need to build a new Europe.
And a minor quibble – nowhere in the Treaty, as far as I can tell, is it defined what or where Europe is. The Maastricht Treaty spoke of the ‘continent of Europe’ but that’s not really accurate as we’re a sub-continent of the Asian landmass (or something like that). Where do we end and Asia and Africa begin? If our politicians are unable to define Europe’s boundaries, it’s no wonder that we the people find it difficult to identify with and commit to.