The strength of a nation lies in its ability to distinguish between general and particular, as well as universal and specific. A nation needs universal to exist. It also needs differences to progress. It is the delicate balance between these two concepts that builds national identity.
Some countries are drawn more toward differences, for fear of losing their unity; this is the case today of the United States. Other countries are drawn more toward unity, for fear of losing their diversity, as is the case in China. In both cases, however, it is deadly.
France, for her part, had long found a very fair balance. Today, it is going through a very delicate moment. Where the threat of a reversal weighs on the demands related to the general and the needs of the particular.
France has known for a long time that what must be generalized is respect for the great principles on which she was founded; these principles remind us that there is only one race, the human race; there is only one way to be a citizen, and that is to accept secularism as a common rule, regardless of one’s religious convictions or cultural origins; there is only one law, that of the Republic, and there is one way to make the laws be respected, which is to comply with the rules of the justice system and its armed branch, the police.
France has also long known what must be specific, which includes the wonders of its landscapes, its agricultural production, recipes, and cultures; she also knows that there are a thousand ways to eat, dress, make music, and think.
France also knows that she is great because of what those who come from elsewhere bring to her, if they are willing to comply with our rules on the universal.
Today, however, at the start of the new school year in 2020, France is in great danger: the general is becoming particular. What should be particular is threatening to become general.
For many children of the Republic, at both ends of the political spectrum, crazy ideas are resurfacing, including the multiplicity of human races, dubious reinterpretations of secularism, and the superiority of laws from Rome, Jerusalem or elsewhere over those of the Republic.
In contrast, we’ve witnessed the progress of the uniformization of what should have remained different, such as: what we eat, how we live, our movement, how we dress, and how we entertain ourselves.
In a very real sense, we are witnessing the same type of unreasonableness in how the back-to-school period has been managed: rather than recalling the universal principles that form the basis of our identity and demanding that they be respected, we prefer to impose the same type of back-to-school period for everyone, the same public health obligations for everyone, the same social advantages for everyone. And even in the recovery plan, we have opted to offer the same type of support for everyone. These are absurd choices that reality will soon disprove.
In this respect, France will soon be nothing more than a gathering of communities with antagonistic identities, but living the same uniformed life in increasingly similar housing, and sharing the same grey and decadent future.
Nothing is more dangerous than going adrift in this manner. Nothing is more important for our country than to make a clear distinction between the universal to be protected and the particular to be defended.
To achieve this today, we must begin by defending secularism loud and clear and apply it indiscriminately to everyone. Further, it will be necessary to agree to organize the beginning of the school year according to geographic, demographic and health conditions; differentiate the types of health protection measures according to each generation; treat differently those citizens who need to be protected and those who have the means to fund the protection of others; and finally, recognize that there are sectors that need to be promoted much more than others: healthcare more than automobiles, education more than the chemical sector, digital more than fossil fuels, and food more than aeronautics. The economy of life must be promoted as a priority, the lack thereof is felt sorely by us, and it appears that nothing will seriously be taken into consideration.
If this delicate balance between universal and particular is not restored as quickly as possible, the nation will soon be nothing more than a collection of uniformed individuals, quarrelling, fighting, and even killing each other, in the name of imaginary differences. For the greater benefit of those countries that will have known better than us how to distinguish between what should bring them together and the differences that enrich their identity.