The thing that impresses me most every time I'm in Europe (outside of the mostly Orthodox countries that suffered Ottoman occupation), is how cathedrals and churches dominate every city and town. This is a continent that was once steeped in religion, and now is virtually devoid of it. In this region in particular, bloody wars were fought over generations between Christian sects as well as between nations, particularly France and Germany, which have traded possession of these provinces through endless wars. Perhaps war in general has so exhausted the population that beliefs of any kind that once led to war are no longer widely held. Thus there is a palpable feeling of loss of faith, not just in religion but in nationhood itself, as if to say we are no longer the people we were.
This sense is especially pronounced in Germany, which is most heavily invested in the European project and institutions. On the river boat, (or ship, as they prefer to call it), we are sailing along the Rhine, there is a crew is composed of young Europeans of many nationalities, representative of this European idea. No part of the world is anywhere near as culturally rich, distinct and varied in such a relatively small geographic area, but this is the product of distinct, brilliant nationalities. That is the dilemma of Europe today- everything they are and always have been, all that makes them attractive, is a product of those nationalities, not of some overall nebulous continental identity. As a result, outside of Germany, and perhaps eventually here, there is a growing sense of national identity, for a variety of reasons.
The great cathedrals are today visited mostly by tourists and the occasional class of students, for whom they may be little more than a historical curiosity. Meanwhile the mosques of immigrants are robustly attended, but their capacity for assimilation appears to be extremely limited to the point where their beliefs and way of life are incompatible with western values. A small number of any group can always be absorbed, but once they become a distinct minority discord and trouble are the likely results. Thus it is well that, if only in the interests of self-preservation, the people's of Europe are awakening to this. If this leads to a rediscovery of national identity and perhaps even faith, it is all to the good, because to preserve a culture there must be a belief in it; a living faith. Only then is there a faith in the future and a reason to form families and have children. This does not require extreme nationalism or hostility to others, especially neighbors, and this new revival of identity is not of that nature. It is not territorial, and no one is seeking to redraw borders. It is rather a matter of identity and spirit. Americans can learn from this as well, for these are the very things that leftists seek to destroy, by trashing the culture and it's history and miseducating the young.