A syrian refugee poses for a selfie photo with Angela Merkel John Macdougall/Getty Images

Redefining Europe, and Europeans

For Europe to find its place in a rapidly changing world, its citizens will have to look beyond the nation-state as their sole source of personal identity. There are few “first nations” left in the world today – and that is a welcome development.

LEIPZIG – Traveling through Germany in the run-up to its federal election on September 24, one cannot help but be struck by the lingering signs of profound trauma from the 2015 refugee crisis.

Suddenly and virtually without warning, nearly a million desperate people – mostly Syrians fleeing the carnage in their homeland – flocked to Germany. And while Germany may be Europe’s most bureaucratically well-managed country, even it was overwhelmed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response to the crisis two years ago was to throw out the rulebook and open her country’s borders. She famously told the German people, “Wir schaffen das” (We can do it).

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