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Saturday, 11 February 2017

In which country The Netherlands do I live?!

“Can you tell me where my country lies”
Said the Unifaun to this true love’s eyes

We live in confusing times, that is without a doubt...

Times in which feelings and emotions suddenly come to the surface that we thought to have "pushed under the rug" for eternity, after the first half of last century.

Times in which fear for other people, other countries and other religious groups seems to beat our feelings of compassion, cooperation, friendliness and hospitality.

And times in which some people – mostly politicians and influential opinionists with their own hidden agendas – shamelessly exploit our darkest fears for their own benefit and ‘claim to fame’. People, whose only achievement is seemingly to have broken down things, that better people than they built up for them before them, with their own blood, sweat and tears.

And now, I am confused in which country The Netherlands I live?!

Do I live in The Netherlands of LinkedIn and the 'highlighted' tweets?

A country in which 'passionate and meticulous freelancers' and 'independent, selfstarting teamplayers' achieve miracles on a daily basis and the impossible once per week?!

A country in which ICT, robotization, agile/scrum, outsourcing/offshoring and blockchain technology lead to a technological Utopia with interesting work for everybody, in which there is only room for ‘shiny, happy and successful people’ without any doubts and fears.

A country in which failure, uncertainty, temporary lack of self-confidence and a realistic view upon one's own weaknesses are fatal flaws, as they don't fit in the image of the shiny, happy and successful people.

A country in which no problems, but only challenges exist; ready to be conquered by the shiny, happy and successful people

And a country in which (excess) consumption and a life full of traveling in style, extravagant luxury, food from Michelin chefs and other tinsel are the only things that count.

Do I live in The Netherlands of the mainstream politicians?

A country were every hard-working man and family is promised €1000 in cash from the Prime Minister’s liberal-conservative VVD party, until the PM is re-elected! Then nobody from his party talks about this €1000 anymore.

A country in which the same Prime Minister shamelessly promises €2 billion extra money for extra jobs and large improvements in homes for the elderly, until he is re-elected. Extra jobs and improvements that must mitigate the years-long negligence regarding these homes, that the same Prime Minister allowed. After his re-election, everybody from his party will suffer from spontaneous, but lasting micro-amnesia regarding this very topic.

A country in which the vice-PM from the Labour Party promises even more money on behalf of care for elderly people, until hé is elected as PM. Then everybody from his party will complain that this very promise turned out to be an impossible proposal to negotiate upon with their counterparts in the new government.

A country in which one party fears the ubiquitous climate change and promises to change the country in one big greenzone, while another party promises unlimited tarmac for every car-addicted person to drive upon, with the highest possible speeds.

Do I live in The Netherlands of the populist parties?

A country 'allegedly' being victimized by nameless, yet invincible herds from the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, who are going to take away our money, our jobs, our pensions and private wealth, our women, our own religion and our freedom of speech and freedom of religion and replace all those for the eternal darkness of new religious middle ages. And perhaps they are going to take away our lives too!

And a country, in which the remaining debris and the last remains of our own free will and freedom allegedly are annihilated by 'the faceless herds from Brussels', who want to assimilate everybody into nameless and unresisting monsters, akin to the Borg in the Startrek series.

A country, in which the populists are the only ones to understand and express the real ‘vox populis’, while ignoring all the voices from the people that disagree with them for various reasons, as “these are not the real voices of the real Dutch people”, but only ‘fake persons’ that should move out of their way.

Do I perhaps live in The Netherlands of the captains of Industry? (source: Financieel Dagblad)

A country in which ‘the captains of industry’ want to starve the beast of populism, by offering a “positive alternative”, as “the country lacks a clear growth perspective, which feeds the negativism. To fight populism the country needs a new business model; a dot at the horizon towards which we can work during the following decades...".

These business men realize that “they live an a world in which people increasingly zoom in on what divides them and not what bonds them. They look for a way to create an exiting, future-proof and sustainable society, together with positive people; people from all layers of society.”

Are these the same captains of industry who had put shareholder value and profit hoarding above everything else? And who had put their factories at the spots where labour costs and establishment costs were the lowest and where governments resided that didn’t care too much about labour circumstances or the environment?

And were these the same captains of industry, who spurred their companies to hunt for the lowest – if any – corporate taxes and who built up their labour force around temporary labour, flexible labour, (East-European) freelance labour or outsourcing and offshoring of labour to the Far East?!

Or were those captains of industry, avoiding corporate taxes and turning their labour force in a totally flexible one, all DIFFERENT captains of industry and do these captains of industry from the FD-article all preserve their Dutch factories and their fixed (Dutch) labour force for the mid-term future?!

Do these very captains of industry indeed want to live in a country in which the Dutch people have decent jobs against decent payments, including those captains of industry themselves.

And won’t these captains of industry look to American executive paychecks anymore as thé standard for their own future paychecks?! Because these huge wage differences, between the highest and lowest paid people and people living on welfare, are appaling and bad for the country in the end?!

Or will their compassion go skindeep instead and is it only aimed at making the Dutch satisfied, meek, humble and obedient again, so they accept their fate with an understanding smile and without any form of protest?!

Do I live in The Netherlands of Alt Right? (Source: Elsevier (paywall))

Statement by one of the Alt-Right people translated below
Courtesy of:
Click to enlarge
Do I live in arguably one of the happiest nations in the world, in which seemingly deranged people under the moniker Alt-Right nevertheless predict “a civil war in which people with a migration background will die, ‘just as Dutch people who don’t care for their own people”’?

Do I live in a country in which the same deranged people tell the world that they are following shooting practice and combat training, as they fear “...that it will be us or them... in a very bloody battle”?

Or do I live in The Netherlands of my office and my children's chess club and basketball club?!

Do I live in a country were people of all colours, religions and cultural backgrounds work together successfully, respectfully and joyfully, with humour and compassion and with a keen eye for the needs of their companies, as well as their colleagues?! Because working together and achieving successes or coping with failure together is fun and makes you feel confident in others.

My children's chess club
Picture by : Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
Do I perhaps live in the country of my children’s chess club, where people from Indian, Russian, Surinamic, Chinese, Bulgarian, Italian, Turkish or Moroccan descent and a zillion other backgrounds fight their peaceful battles on the 64 fields of the chessboard, in order to see who’s best at chess? Children who all speak the language of this fascinating game and use every break between games to play that other favorite sport of them: football?

My son's basketball club
Picture by : Ernst Labruyère
Click to enlarge
Maybe do I live in the country of our basketball club where again children from a zillion backgrounds play together in teams to become better basketball players and also better people, under the loving guidance of voluntary coaches, who spend all their spare time to teach these youngsters the noble game of basketball?  

And where I see insecure youngsters – initially “at war” with their quickly changing, juvenile bodies – turn into confident and well-trained teamplayers, who appreciate the help and the displayed confidence of their team mates, bringing them all on a higher level?!

Do I still live in a country where a Dutch comedian can create a hilarious, multi-million-viewer mini-movie, in which he advocates The Netherlands as the natural number two behind Donald Trump’s “America first”?!

The answer is: “Yes, I do!!! I do live in this country The Netherlands!”. And strangely enough, the answer applies to all the aforementioned questions, regarding The Netherlands.

That is the strange and ambivalent situation that the Dutch have to live in, knowing at the same time that the political and societal situation in many other countries is equal or even much worse, when it comes to the upcommance of Alt-Right and populist movements and people. And also much worse with respect to unreliable, dishonest and disloyal politicians, who are only in it for the money and for their eternal claim to fame.

I realize that there is a lot at stake currently with the upcoming Dutch parliamentary elections of March 15th, 2017. Therefore I hope that the The Netherlands of the last category will win eventually: the country in which the people have humour, love, confidence and compassion with other people, as well as the headstrong directness that people in other countries might hate, but that made us to what we are today.

Not the picture-perfect, unicolourous small country with only white people that some of us might want to see, but a real country with real people; with real, but nevertheless resolvable problems. A country in which the mainstream politicians keep their relative fairness and honesty they always possessed.

My beloved country The Netherlands in which not the cynics, fearmongerers and warmongerers win, but the normal people of good will and good faith! 

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