zaterdag 23 maart 2013

2013/10 Out of the Box

There are still plenty of pigeonholers in the Netherlands, and in an export country like ours, that is dangerous. Anywhere, it is dangerous. When America or Iran wants to export their values, we know immediately how dangerous that can be. Let’s do them one better. This is the time when someone like Ahmadinejad should use the opportunity, after being accused of disrespectful behavior for comforting Hugo Chavez’s widow, which involved touching her, to mention that the laws in his country are not just Muslim, but also Iranian and therefore do not apply equally in other countries. Muslim law, like Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, or any other religion’s law, can be freely interpreted. Politics is the art of lying. Religion is no more than the art of interpretation. That is why the mix of politics and religion is so dangerous. Luckily, I also found out that art in itself is the art of learning.

But such an idea simply doesn’t fly in the greater world. The pigeonholers have already decided what is what. Having first appeared at the start of the 20th century and grown stronger in the post-WW2 period of pillarization, they seem to have a solid place in our consciousness and unconsciousness. We think we are an open society, but more and more, you need a wheelbarrow to get inside any circle. Quality and content alone are not enough anymore. And OK, our country might be one of the freest in the world, but still, that is decreasing. And OK, so there are no Nazi soldiers asking for our identity papers: we now willingly conform to the demands of social media and provide the information ourselves to endless databases. Freely. And the internet does not forget. 

Holland in a nutshell. The royal drama pocket size. In which representatives of the people, including the new king himself, offer themselves a symbolic and marginal function and the local Dutch elite have reservations about the idea floated by Warren Buffet, one of the richest people on this planet, for the wealthy to sign a contract with themselves to give away at least half of their money to society. That’s assuming you hear from the local elite at all.

Trust, trust , trust. That was the magic word at the beginning of the current financial crisis, which was quite ironic. I haven’t seen anything change much since then, except the increase in the number of those who have realized they were too late in taking as much as they could and are trying to do something about it at the very last moment. The day will come when money is worthless. Meanwhile, even former prime ministers, ex-bankers, and professors are pleading for the system to change. Not because stealing money is so bad. We got used to that. The worst thing is the lying. The continuous lying to one another and everyone else undermines the authority of government much more, when after all, government is no more than “the organization of ourselves.”

In my country, this phenomenon is actual on many levels, and so it is in many other countries. At the EU level, almost 50% of the people could easily vote to leave the EU. I rarely hear about alternatives. An identical discussion took place 15-20 years ago about the United Nations. “Abolish” was the short and measured response of barkers and shouters. But I am saying nothing new when I say that first the old must be completely destroyed before you can start building the new. And that first you should know what the new is before you start destroying the old. I guess it is also nothing new that the destruction of institutions like the UN will initially bring chaos and catastrophe. In Syria, you have seen for two years now, and will probably see for many years to come, what happens if one starts fighting for change first without having reached a common consensus about what that change should be.

That is why I am not a revolutionary, but more evolutionary. I admit it takes much longer. I admit it will take compromises and engaging with those you might disagree with. I admit it is idealistic. But rather that than people’s courts, clan building and disastrous, apathetic individualism. If I can be so bold as to say, “I do not know where you want us to go but I am happy to take you there.” Trust in yourself.

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