35

On Monday I turned 35.
Hmmm….
That’s almost 40…
Half way to 70…
A quarter of the way to 140…
Seven times the age of my middlest son….
1/27th of Methuselah
But it feels good too.
This was a special year because my birthday came the day after Easter.
Easter Monday.
Thoughts about birth and resurrection…
In Hungary Easter Monday is the day when boys spray girls with perfume/water, and the girls reward the boys with a coin or an Easter egg.
Laura has a special role of being the only girl in our house¬† ūüôā
She got sprayed.
It was a great day!

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Schengen History

Last night, at midnight, border controls were lifted as nine countries entered into the Schengen aggreement and into Europe’s¬†border-free passport-free zone.¬† The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the zone.

In a way, this was a final step for many people in the lowering of the iron curtain and the barrier between Eastern and Western Europe.  A big day with big celebrations along so many border towns and cities. 

The town of S√°toralja√ļjhely (literally “Tent Button New Place”)¬†is on the border of Hungary and Slovakia and was split into two when borders were redrawn by the Trianon treaty in 1920.¬† As of midnight, residents can simply walk across and visit their neighbors without going through border guards and passport controls.¬†¬†

velkeslemence.jpgHowever, there is another town on the Slovak Ukrainian border called Velké Slemence which is still split.  For decades the two halves of this town had no access to each other.  But at the strong appeal of the American Association of Hungarians, the governments set up a border passport control station so that friends and family members could once again visit one another.  As a result of the expansion of the Schengen countries, this border will become much much tighter along with those on the Eastern and Southern edges of Hungary. 

European Values and Family Trends

Recently I had the chance to meet with Vladislav Matej (Family Counselor with Socia) in Bratislava.  He outlined a set of recent sociological studies on European values and family trends.  Here are some of the highlights from Vladislav Matej.   

Prof. Jan Kerkhofs, University of Louwen, Belgium reported a longitudinal 20-year study of European values.  There were five primary shifts:

  • Ethics have entered the autonomous sphere (individually determined)
  • Ethical norms are influenced and created by parliaments and not by churches anymore (there are lots of examples of this)
  • There is a high tolerance to the actions of individuals
  • Individual ethics are limited by the freedom of other individuals

There has been a primary movement toward individualism, post-traditionalism, tolerance, and pessimism.

A report (D. Popeone, sociologist) shows correlating trends between the occurance of the sexual revolution, a rapid decrease of fertility, and a rapid increase of divorce.

A study by G.T. Stanton has found a rapid increase of cohabiting couples (not married) and several trends within these households: an increase in disturbing and painful relationships, an increase of interferance of the successful formation of follow-up partnerships (not sure what this means), an increase of conflict, an increase of domestic violence, and a strengthening of mistrust.

The following stats are taken from Eurostat.  The average age of men/women at first marriage in 1980 was 26/23.  In 2003 it was 30/28.  The percent of children born outside of marriage in 1980 was 8.8%.  In 2005 it was 33%.  In 1980 the number of divorces that occured in Europe was 672,917.  In 2005 it was 1,042,892.  Today, 2/3 of households in the EU live without children.  16% of families have one child, 13% have two children, and 4% have three children.  In the next fifty years, the population of the US is expected to increase by 150 million.  In Europe it is expected to decrease by 40 million.