Understanding of Europe
It is natural for people to come together in small groups, families and villages. When these villages join and form a nation, several issues arise. The positive ones include having a mutual defence force, a common and larger sense of identity and a cohesive system of laws. However, there develops a division of the people in elite and ordinary and, thus, this is susceptible to rise in suspicion. Empires are built as a result of forces that are powerful enough to make people come together into a nation or a group of nations, and make their interests second to supra-national interests (Bowyer 2011). A powerful army is a force that creates a supra-nation by conquering and overthrowing small nations to make a large empire.
Europe is such an empire that was built on powerful forces, namely Catholicism, Charles the Great and his military ambition and the threat of Islam. Over the years, there were numerous wars that led to the monopoly of the Catholic Church being broken and the empire divided into several nations that were in constant war with none succeeding (Bowyer 2011). Europe was left with nothing that connects it; therefore, it is a disarmed empire with no common religion and language and with different ethnicities. The different states that make up Europe are also different in time and circumstance, and there is nothing is similar among them (Guizot 1986).
Despite these differences, Europe has a striking uniformity in its civilization. However, there has not been development of civilization in any of the individual states in Europe. It is a widespread phenomenon that is seen in all of Europe in its appearance. There are, therefore, grounds to say that there is a European civilization (Guizot 1986). Civilization flowed to all the states uniformly from very similar sources that bring forth a unifying factor in Europe. A shared civilization makes all states connected as one despite all the differences between them.
To define civilization is a difficult task that is mainly caused by the limitedness of the definitions that are provided by scholars. There are many factors that must come together in order for a society to be referred to as a civilization. From all the definitions available, the common factor is that people live in towns, cities or in urban areas. For this to happen there needs to be a constant and efficient supply of food. This will enable a group of people to specialize in other trades such as art, warfare and administration (Stokes 2009). In addition, other characteristics of a civilization include a dense population of people, ruling class, state religion, advanced learning, monumental art, and technological advancement.
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Nevertheless, civilization does not consist mainly of positive features; it is also characterized by some aspects that can be deemed negative. These aspects include slavery, frequent warfare, epidemic diseases and subordination of women (Stokes 2009). The main idea behind civilization is growth and development. The advancement of people is fundamental in any civilization, thus, it can be observed in all spheres of life including technology, administration, and the erosion of barbaric practices such as slavery. The faculties that undergo development should directly bring about the development of the individual people. Progress of the society and progress of the individuals are essential in any civilization (Guizot 1986).
Civilization in Europe came much later than in China, India, West Asia and North Africa (Smitha 2014). Despite the late onset of civilization in Europe, it has really grown and developed, ensuring progress of the society and the individuals who make up the society in regards to their mental faculties and intellectual nature. There are many factors that can prove that Europe is indeed a civilization and be understood as such.
Europe has largely grown due to infrastructure and architecture as evidenced in many states that make up Europe. For example, Eiffel Tower in France, the Colosseum in Rome, Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and the Tower Bridge in London, Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, and many other architectural wonders all over Europe. The infrastructure in Europe is also well-defined. The busiest airport, Heathrow Airport in London is a good example. Furthermore, it is possible to travel all over Europe, either by cars or public transport such as trains, buses and airplanes.
One major factor for determining the civilization of a society is that it should have a dense population. Hence, the civilization of Europe can be determined by the population of people in the continent. It is estimated that Europe has a population of 741.2 million people in 2014, hence it is the third continent behind Asia and Africa in terms of population. The people in Europe are dispersed in the various fifty-six internationally recognized states (World Population Statistics 2014).
Pre-19th century had no defined expectations of the role of women in regard to their political status. Some states allowed female state officials while others simply did not allow succession of women to the throne. In the 19th century, women became excluded in all matters of politics all over Europe. Moreover, this had become a standard policy and consequently an informal standard of civilization in Europe. However, towards the end of the 19th century, there arose political movements, which rallied women to be given the right to vote and showing the benefit of having women to the advancement of the society (Towns 2009).
There were differences established between men and women that justified the exclusion of women from politics. Men appeared to possess reason. This characteristic enabled them to deliberate law in the political sphere and allowed to speak for the common good of the state, addressing issues of general interest. Women, on the other hand, were seen to possess the characteristics of emotion and weakness as opposed to those of the constitutional state (Towns 2009). As such, women had to be excluded from any deliberations dealing with general interests of the state.
This subordination of women saw change after the onset of the concept of civilization which was linked to enlightenment. The notions of humiliation, paternalistic and violent behaviour were considered as being less civilized. The role of women in the society and political realm began to have an effect as it was seen as a symbol of advancement. A society in which women prospered was seen to be advanced and civilized, thus, making the political status of women important (Towns 2009). Europe has seen empowerment of women with its monarch being matriarchal.
Religion in Europe was mainly Christian, more specifically Catholic. However, with time the monopoly of the Catholic religion faded during the reformation, thus, breaking up into different denominations. In 2014, the main religion in Europe is considered to be Christianity. It is divided into three major sects, namely Catholicism, prominent in Western and Southern Europe, Protestantism practiced mostly in Northern Europe and Orthodoxy mostly practiced in Eastern Europe. Islam also has a stable presence in Europe and it is practiced majorly in Turkey. Judaism is practiced mostly in France (World Population Statistics 2014).
Christianity greatly influenced the secular rule in encouraging rulers to improve their administrative methods. It also encouraged peace and stable political systems. In addition, the religion encouraged intellectual enrichment with the continued use of Latin and classical learning. Education was promoted through Bible reading and interpretation writings of the church. It is also argued that Christianity caused the spur of technological advancements by arguing that humankind was greater than animals and created in God’s image. Furthermore, it was said that the church’s use of bells created an interest in metalwork. This was all in the medieval time and can be well argued that this set the trend for further technological advancement and intellectual growth through to the 21st century (Guisepi n.d.)
Europe faced major turmoil during World Wars I and II. The effects of these wars are visible in the 21st century including the use of poison gases in battlefield, genocide, as well as fascism versus communism supported by the Soviet Union. As a result of the wars, Britain never recovered fully and, thus, declined to the level of second-class powers. In the 21st century, Europe is still involved in wars and battles including terrorism. Terrorism is apparently not a new phenomenon as it has been present for over thirty years now. In Europe, specifically Britain, Spain and Ireland, thousands of lives have been lost as a result of terrorism (Council of the European Union 2014).
The European Union determined that there is only one way to deal with terrorism and that is to confront it. The European Union committed itself fully to combat terrorism under the following objectives such as prevent, protect, pursue and respond. So far it has successfully prevented the attack of European citizens on account of terrorism (Council of the European Union 2014).Currently there is a threat of Islamic attack in Europe from Isis. This is clear evidence that warfare is still a major issue in Europe up-to-date. This proves the factor of frequent warfare as an aspect of civilization to be true (Traynor 2014).
Advancement of human beings has led to the development of technologies that have promoted and brought about globalization. As a result of globalization, people are able to connect all over the world. However, this has brought about a diminishing sense of belonging. Social identity is a fundamental aspect in defining ourselves as human beings. The sense of belonging is slowly diminishing in that globalization is moving people apart as opposed to bringing them together. However, this is a debatable notion, a debate that is currently going on in Britain (Rationis 2014).
The level of belonging is changing. It is not clear if people are seeking sense of belonging elsewhere or are simply losing their sense of belonging altogether. People seek acceptance and social identity in family, friendship, lifestyle choices, that is, social status, and nationality. It can be argued that globalization has strengthened the sense of identity in regards to nationality. People develop a sense of pride of where they come from once exposed to the many other cultures in the world. This has all been brought about by the development of civilization and technological advancement. This same advancement has also been beneficial in opening up Europe to the world (Rationis 2014). It can be seen that Europe is a developed civilization through this global advancement.
The social state of human beings also developed as a result of growth in civilization. This is in regards to property and rights distribution among individuals. Also, this translates to the improvement of social condition, its superiority and purity. This development has transformed from a socialist to a capitalist social state. In the former, wealth is distributed equally and communally, while in the latter, wealth and property is owned individually. The capitalist approach has its challenges among them being oppression and exploitation as well as the rise of social classes, the elite, middle-class and the lower-class. To try and curb the challenges brought about by capitalism, new socialist methods are being looked into as an alternative (Cockshott 2006).
In the European civilization, various aspects are intertwined within it. These are the principles necessary in social organization such as the history, spirituality, aristocratic and monarchical elements, societal classes, the degrees of liberty, and wealth distribution. These co-existing elements make the European civilization very unique in itself. The mentioned elements exist side by side differing in their nature and yet containing a similarity in themselves that make them European. This appalling ability of the diversified elements of social organization to exist without annihilating the other and entering into a mutual understanding is what makes the European civilization and gives it its superiority over other civilizations (Guizot 1986). It is the presence of all these factors that make it possible to say that Europe is indeed a civilization on its own beyond any doubt and distinguish it from the rest.