If you are living outside of the Netherlands you may be (blissfully) unaware of this, but we are experiencing stress. This Wednesday there will parliamentary elections, and things are heating up the last few days.
At least, in the media....
I'm not sure what your image is of this country, but until a decade ago the mere mention of my country of origin would in large parts of the world raise a smile, - or at least a grin. Apparently Holland was associated with a range of 'civil liberties' which were seen by many as desirable, if not - in some occasions - craved for. Besides these liberties we Dutch were praised for our tolerance, and particularly of other cultures.
I am sorry to have to report this, but we Dutch have thrown all this out of the window. Instead we have adopted the narrowmindedness (if not 'closedmindness') and xenophobia of which until recently we were prone to accuse other countries.
Politically this has gone hand in hand with parties with "freedom" somewhere in their name. And with these it is like mobile phones: a "smart" phone does not refer to what it gives, but what it takes away. Subsequent governments have over the last decade done little for many and a lot for few. Key word in this reverse Robin Hood campaign has been "The Economy". Numbers, statistics, predictions and self-proclaimed experts have conjured up an entity bigger and more powerful than any pagan idol in history.
And the 'few'? One only has to look at what has happened to those who left politics, - often under the pretense of withdrawing from the hectic rush of 'public life'. Cushy jobs with large accountancy firms, in international banking. Member of this board, or advisor to that. And not just one of these, but preferably a few ... nothing too arduous though.
I am sure this phenomenon is not limited to this country. In the age of networking the 'old boys' have found their niche. And what used to be blatantly "our thing" has now been cunningly relabelled to "economic necessity" and similar compelling catchwords.
With the help of the media the electorate is soporificated, sedated into accepting the choice between 'old boys A' and 'old boys B'. Brainwashed, the voters will again vote for the parties that will rescue The Economy, - and in doing so will continue relieving them of their liberties. It will take a few years for the voters to emerge from this state of amnesia, but when they do there will be new elections. And the cycle will begin again.....
As a tribute to the tolerant past of this country, I would like to share this album by the late (he died in 2008 - see this article and this wiki) Nigerian highlife star Orlando Owoh. The "Part II" would suggest a part one, but I have personally never seen it (but this discography assures me that it does exist).
Although I have to admit that Owoh's voice may lead to a state of soporification, in my experience this has only had a beneficial result. I would even go as far as to recommend this album as an acute remedy against any form of amnesia!