On July 27, a torch will enter the Olympic Stadium in London, and that flame represents more than just the commencement of a global athletic tradition dating back centuries. In a way, it represents the hopes and dreams of millions of people all across the European continent who desire an end to austerity and a return to the stability and economic prosperity that they used to enjoy in such great amounts. The sad reality is that Europe will never be the same as it was before the financial crisis hit its core, but what remains to be determined -- largely by the will of the public servants on whose shoulders rest the greatest decisions the leaders of the continent have had to make -- is whether the new Europe will be a miserable shadow of its old self, or whether the new Europe will rise from the ashes a more equitable, just and stable continent than it was before.
Even before the recession hit Europe, the continent had been experiencing deterioration in its prosperity and vibrancy, with immigrants being scapegoated for the suffering of the masses and corporate interests having unprecedented control of what went on in the halls of power. In Berlin, Rome, Madrid, London and every other major center of the continent, there were signs that even for a Europe which had lost its superpower position after the Second World War, a new low had been reached economically, socially and politically. We Americans tend to greatly criticize the goings-on in today's Washington without realizing that across the pond, there are influential political parties advocating such radical ideas as banning the inflow of immigrants based not on economic necessity but on grounds of racial profiling, and others who are used as mere tentacles of the wealthy and elite few without regard for the wishes of the hungry and jobless many.
Thus, as we watch often-times seemingly superhuman feats at the Olympics, we should ponder at least for a moment what could become reality if European policymakers put aside the finger-pointing and race-baiting and make the tough choices that we all know they must make if Europe is to survive, and perhaps, if the situation is settled soon enough, succeed.