A World in Flux
Guest Blog Written by: Ilinca Kung Parslow Political Advisor
Not long ago I believed there were two ways in which people governed themselves. Autocracy and Democracy. I was so wrong. I grew up under the most repressive, severely totalitarian government in Eastern Europe. Romania under Ceausescu. I learned about the West watching ‘Dallas’ on grainy Bulgarian TV. I thought ‘Dallas’ was a realistic view of what life could offer.
I made my way West and eventually to the U.S., carrying my ignorance and hope like a shiny cheap suitcase, repeating the experience of millions of immigrants coming from poverty, oppression and social or ethnic restrictions. My own dreams were not of the wealth and glamour of ‘Dallas’, but the opportunity simply to immerse myself in “FREEDOM.”
Turns out things are more complicated. I did encounter wealth, glamour and freedom. But early on the contradictions of the West struck hard. Poverty, racism, institutional restrictions on social and ethnic mobility also existed in the West. Freedom’s weakness is that everyone has the opportunity to oppress and exploit and the talents and everyday chances to do just that are myriad.
I placed myself in debt for the rest of my life to acquire the education I needed to join the groups of people who still believe there can be true democracy and freedom. Our numbers are large, but still not significant compared to the psychological and institutional barriers facing us.
“My” America’s government has fallen to personal and corporate moneyed interests to the extent that its governing ideals and mandates have come under threat. So, I decided to change my perspective and immerse myself in a newer experiment in democratic processes, the European Union (EU).
For the past year, I’ve been an advisor at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. My work is immersed in the EU’s struggle to address the challenges its 28 countries experience in the dizzying pace of global change. The European Parliament is like a living, breathing body. People of different cultures, bridging rivalries through painstaking collaboration are the many cells, tissues, and systems of this vibrant structure. The EU’s challenge today is to respond to change while staying rooted in its foundations of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights. Will it live up to the challenge? I can give you the answer maybe in a few years’ time.