Every year on Christmas eve, Luxembourg Grand Duke Henri gives a Christmas address to the people of Luxembourg.
“My fellow citizens,
On this Christmas eve, at the end of a troubled year, we are all looking for some rest and serenity. We also wish to be able to look confidently ahead to better days.
After all the turbulences we experienced this year, we should keep believing in the world’s progress. Next to the many crisis, there were also positive developments.
Life expectancy is rising constantly in a spectacular fashion
Global wealth is growing, although it remains unevenly distributed
Extreme poverty is diminishing on all continents
Science is making new discoveries almost on a daily basis
The great importance of the protection of our environment is being globally recognised, as can be seen through the various international actions against climate change.
I could name other positive examples, running the risk of being called a hopeless optimist. I do know however, that our current situation is experienced as a difficult one, during which a lot is changing and a lot is being put into question.
Since the economic crisis of 2008, a lot of principles and deep convictions have made way to insecurities. The possibility of a failing banking system or even the bankruptcy of a state were not part of our patterns of thought any more. This is why many people were scared for their savings.
Cuts in public spending and rising unemployment have further intensified fears of deteriorating social status. The acceleration of globalisation, wars that are at the origin of a large migrant influx, among which the tragedy of Aleppo is the most recent example, and terrorist attacks all gave the impression of an epochal change in history and have caused the questioning of our identity.
The reflection of these fears can be observed increasingly in political opinions and electoral outcomes. Many people want more security and some are even calling for old borders to be reintroduced. There are those, that want to go back to the world they once knew. Or those, that are looking for simple answers to complex questions. As easily as this can be understood, these developments also bear many dangers, as they are threatening to separate our society.
Sure enough, these expressions of unease and anger can never be met with arrogance. They have to be taken seriously, they have to be considered and concrete solutions have to be found. Ignoring diverging opinions because they are not “politically correct” is definitely not the right way.
I stay convinced that we cannot be led by fear. “Fear is a bad advisor”. Fear should have no place in our political actions. That’s why our politicians have to meet these feelings with calm and thoughtfulness. If politics can prove time and again that it is proactive and that it is not getting run over by events, it can create real trust.