In an op-ed for German media outlet “Frankfurter Allgemeine zeitung”, the lead singer for Irish rock band U2 makes no secrets about where he stands on the pro and anti-Europe debate that has intensified across the continent. In fact, he is so pro Europe that he plans to wave a huge EU flag on stage during his tour which will start in Berlin.
I’m told a rock band is at its best when it’s a little transgressive: when it pushes the bounds of so-called good taste, when it shocks, when it surprises. Well, U2 is kicking off its tour in Berlin this week, and we’ve just had one of our more provocative ideas: during the show we’re going to wave a big, bright, blue EU flag.
I’m guessing that even to a rock audience, waving an EU flag these days is either an annoyance, a bore, a kitsch reference to the Eurovision Song Contest but to some of us it has become a radical act. Europe, which for a long time triggered a yawn, today sparks a kitchen-table screaming match. Europe is the theatre of powerful, emotional, clashing forces that will shape our future. I say our future, because there is no way to deny that we are all in this boat together, in seas churned up by extreme weather and extremist politics.
Europe is a hard sell in Europe these days. This is true even though there has never been a better place to be born than in Europe during the last 50 years. Though we have to work a lot harder to spread the benefits of prosperity, Europeans are better educated, better shielded from abuses by big corporations, and leading better, longer, healthier, and flat-out happier lives than people in any other region of the world. Yes, happier. They measure these things.
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