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January 6, 2019 9:58 amComments are Disabled

It’s my last day on my breakneck swing through Europe, visiting old friends, catching up on my reading, celebrating the new year and recapping the old.

Every time I travel I learn something new about the world. What I learned, or more accurately, observed, more astutely than ever before is how the great cosmopolitan capitals of Europe are starting to converge.

Absent linguistic cues, one could find oneself in the middle of the city center of Helsinki, Finland, and just as easily imagine that one is in Stockholm, Sweden. The shops and restaurants adorning Oxford Street in London are not dissimilar from those lining the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

From trams to subways to taxis to cars, the transport options are almost identical. Cuisines are varied and diverse everywhere. You can get sushi in Budapest just as easily as you can get tacos in Athens. Due to free movement throughout the Eurozone, people from all cultures and languages, not just from within Europe but immigrants from abroad, are mingling in what is surely a new global melting pot. And finally, linguistic differences are converging, though ironically to a language that soon won’t be officially spoken by any member state.

It’s incredible that the European sphere has gone from war and enmity only 75 years ago, to a political and economic mega-state where the main national capitals are more alike and connected than different and disparate.

I obviously don’t have any insight or knowledge into whether the European Union is a good idea in the long term, or whether events like Brexit will cause irrevocable harm to the Long Peace of Europe.

But I know that in 1658 Charles XII of Sweden rode his calvary across the frozen sea to deal a crushing defeat to Denmark. And now there’s a bridge across the same channel.

Which is to say, whatever Europeans may be losing in terms of cultural identity and uniqueness (which is a concern you hear echoed across the continent), the tradeoff of being able to create a peaceful, democratic, cosmopolitan empire that connects people into one mega-culture may not be a terrible one.

As an a caveat, I wonder whether Europe 2019 is what World 2119 will look like; where free movement of peoples and culture and technology across borders will mean that Lagos, Nigeria will look the same as Melbourne, Australia. And then we’ll know that we’ve truly achieved global peace.

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