Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not quite Verdun

More or less exactly 90 years ago, the armistice that concluded World War I was agreed upon by the major powers. The total number of dead, around 20 million, was exceeded by the next big war, but WW I is still called "The Great War" by the British.

Some of us might want to use this anniversary to go and see the sites of the greatest battles, and to be visually reminded of this testament to human folly. Instead, we are sitting in offices, doing preparation for meetings, being at meetings, reading documents or writing emails about the big and small conflicts in European higher education. The big question of the day is not whether Germany should mobilise its war machine against France and vice versa.

We should not be satisfied with a Europe where families and individuals struggle for a roof over their heads and food for their kids, or where individuals are harassed for being different from the majority of people in their societies. But sometimes it is ok to feel lucky for not being at war.