23 December 2020
As this year comes to an end, we are all looking back and asking: how was this last year? The answers are varied, naturally. Some have won, others have lost. Some have succeeded, others have failed. Some rejoiced, others grieved. But COVID-19 has struck us all, and sadly, with fatal consequences for many.
A lot of people only experienced the fear wrought by the pandemic. To others, it provided fuel for their populism. But it has made us all aware of our fragility and vulnerability. It brought out our sense of personal responsibility, but also our dependency on one another. It reminded us that there are moments when we are all truly equal – big or small, rich or poor, beautiful or not so much. It made us pause, or at least slow down. And contemplate. Contemplate not only our career, failures, achievements, or setbacks; It made us contemplate what is genuinely essential. Contemplate about the meaning of our endeavours. About the goals we’ll strive to achieve in the future. About the values underpinning our endeavours.
The Christmas season offers a splendid opportunity, as well as inspiration, to bring that contemplation to fruition. If it results in the desire and resolve to achieve personal change, followed by efforts to improve one’s surroundings and the world, then the COVID-19 pandemic will have achieved something truly unintended.
Dear colleagues, friends, and supporters of the Martens Centre, as the year 2020 draws to a close, I want to thank you very much for your efforts, for your work, and for the results which we have achieved together. Let me wish you all blessed Christmas holidays filled with love, joy, togetherness, peace and hope. For 2021 I wish you good health, as well as determination and energy to change things for the better. All the best and good luck, dear friends!
President, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies