Tag Archives: Identity

The Metaphor of Geert Wilders

For a long time, I have avoided writing about the Dutch politician of this era. The guy pissed me off whenever I saw him. I didn´t think he deserved my attention or that of my readers. Pollute my blog with him. Yet for the past ten years, he has kept his status as a nagging presence in Dutch society. It makes us wonder: what has given this childman his power? How has he managed to become so persistently annoying that he convinced me to write about him? Where has our society failed to ignore him to death? Which lessons does he throw in our midst?

A brief history for those who´ve missed it. Around the year 2000, Pim Fortuyn was the first politician whose party got big because he addressed the problem of integration in the Netherlands. He got killed (by an educated Dutch guy who thought he was saving the country) and left a gap in the political offer while the demand remained. Wilders filled that gap. When, after some years, he managed to enter the government, he dismantled it after a year. Today, no politician wants to govern with him. He yells bombastic language from the sideline and crosses some ethical lines for which he is then punished.

Some people admire Wilders´ rethorics. They see quality in his capacity to frame things simply, in a language that people with little education can follow. He called other politicians mental, has framed their plans as garbage, and has insulted cultural groups, delaying big decisions in the process. Even if he can make me laugh, I don´t think his intelligence is the reason for our fascination, because if you look at him closely, he acts like a little boy.

Wilders is the personification of his own incapacity to cause productive change. He does not dare to go into dialogue with strangers because he is afraid it might threaten his worldview. He has translated his unwillingness to listen to others into a program that reveals his identity as a sissy who calls his daddy when he gets into a conflict. The daddy, here, are the cops that do the dirty work for him.

What intrigues us in Wilders, is his reminder of our own cowardly attitude to change. Our laziness in the search for truth. Dutch politicians cannot call him to order because of their fear for the points he addresses. They too lack the creativity to solve them, so they pretend there is nothing going on. WIlders is our collective lack of interest in our neighbour, and our incapacity to move ourselves towards a happy life.

What this man has sublimed will keep tormenting our subconscious until we solve the fragmentation in our communities. He exists among us until most of us learn how to be peacefully curious about the realities of the other. He´ll be here until we perceive understanding as an action instead of a state of mind. He will reflect our fears until we gather the courage to look them in the eyes.

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Slit

I drive my bicycle by the Huizingalaan for my job. There’s an anxious feeling, but I can’t put my finger on it. The traffic light is red. Shall I cross the street anyway? I’m almost at my third destination of this morning, meaning I’m halfway the duty: taking pictures of the litter on the street. The rubbish in the grass doesn’t matter, that’s not in the assignment. I decide there’s no rush, so I just stop for the red light. The weekend pops into my mind. We had a nicely easy pace, far slower than the footsteps I hear behind me. They’re close, actually. I want to turn my head, when I feel a firm, warm hand on my right ear. It is attached to a left arm that is now in front of my face. It my face in a turn to the left. A sharp cold blade enters my neck on the left side of my Adam’s apple and painfully slits through. I am surprisingly aware of it cutting my aorta. My body pressure drops. I’m calmer than ever when I bend my right shoulder forward towards my steer. Whoever is behind me still holds my face back and I’m looking at the sky. I feel my legs give way and my body comes down like a scaffolding with a missing lower pole. My heart pumps out quantities of blood and I cannot stop it. My extremities start tingling. The feeling steadily creeps in. I lose perception in my skin.

He doesn’t look into my eyes, but instead goes straight for the inner pocket of my coat. I hear myself attempt to ask what the black hat expects to find there. His survival? Another pulse of life leaves my arms and legs. It’s sad. The dark black coat and the hat run off with my wallet, leaving what is left of me buried under the bike I had with me. “Now nobody will know who I am”. The thoughts sound distant but meaningful. Light flashes appear. They come with a pulsating headache. Part of my view is replaced by colour patterns. Someone I once briefly dated enters my vision. Never thought she would.

“What did you do wrong?” I hear.
“Should I have ignored the red light and crossed the street?”
There’s no answer. I feel the question press stronger upon me.
“Should I have looked behind me when I felt something was wrong? When I heard his footsteps? Should I have seen him when he wanted to attack?”
Still no answer.
“Should I have taken a shorter coffee break, so that the evil would never have met me? Perhaps I should have called in sick this morning, when I felt that little headache rise? Or should I have forgotten my camera at home and caused a delay, or overslept a little, or made some more love or…”
“What did you do wrong?”
The similarity in tone and volume with the earlier question is frightening.

“Was it my dedication? Should I have been a more effective worker? More persuasive? Should I have been more pro-active in times where I was needed? Should I have tried harder to convince others about this team building idea? Should I have put more effort in the workspace? Cleaned more? Worn more suitable clothes? Perhaps I should have reviewed my products better? And the others’? Paid more attention to their personal problems instead of my own?
It remains silent for a while.

“Should I have been more loving to my girlfriend, maybe? Thought less about sex, perhaps? More about tenderness and care? Cuddled more? Should I have avoided those other girls I felt a stronger affection to at times? Spent less time drinking with friends? Should I have mastered my feelings better, so that she would’ve had a stronger shoulder to rest on? Tried harder to listen to her when she had a hard time? Perhaps I should have practiced Yoga? Should I have asked her to marry me? Have babies? Would that have saved me from this horrible death? Should I have reached out to her more while I still had the chance? Did I date the wrong girl?

“What did you do wrong?” Again, the exact same words in the exact same, serene but powerful voice.
“Should I have saved more energy? Bought more organic food? Perhaps I shouldn’t have bought a car? Lived a more sober life, cared more about strangers? Should I have visited my grandma more often? Learn from her words and give her some news on how the younger people live? Should I have fought her lonely existence and restored the generation gap? Should I have called more with my parents? Asked them for their points of view? Listened to their warnings? Should I not have moved so far away? Chosen my dad’s profession, tried to understand him? Should I have granted them a grandchild while I had the chance? Could I have been less hard on my brothers? Fought them less, given them more space to be who they were? Should I ha…

“What did you do wrong?” am I in a loop? Will this go on an on?
“Should I have dedicated my life to the spiritual? Moved to a monastery? Helped out in the third world, perhaps? Should I have actively practiced a state of constant joyful trance? Strived for enlightenment? Compassion? Should I have passionately sought the wiser ones to support me in a path of service to the divine? Travelled through dimensions? Been more in touch with myself? Should I have established a disciplined bio rhythm? Meditated more? Should I have been an example to those who needed one? Or perhaps I should have been more humble? Taken my convictions less seriously? Or simply have been more open to others? Where the Christians right? Should I have just understood that Jesus was our one and only saviour? Should I have separated milk from meat? Prayed towards the middle east? Or maybe I ignored you when I met you, disguised up as a homeless person? Or were you dressed up as a business man? A beautiful woman in a long black dress, perhaps?

“What did you do wrong?” I’m running out of thoughts. What if I don’t find the answer? I don’t know what to say.
“Should I have slept more?”
“That’s enough, man!” says the voice. “I was just messing with you! You should have crossed the red light while you still could. Your first guess was right. But it’s too late for that now” a jolly laughter. “Anyway, dude, welcome to the afterlife.”

Idols

I’d like to contemplate the human tendency to look up to their examples. I recently read that all people do that. The idea made sense.

Are you susceptible to idolatry? Myself, I used to cling to male figures when I was a kid, because I lived in a house with only my mom and my sister. Then, from my puberty till my twenties, I fell in love with many girls and lifted some of their characteristics into an unreachable space. But I never had idols such as writers or TV personalities or, and especially not, gurus. I do think that many people do.

One can wonder if this tendency is part of our physical code or that it’s a mental thing we acquire as we grow. It would fit the bio-belief to assume that as monkeys we needed to look up to our leaders, or else our communities would have fallen apart, and we’d have lost the struggle for survival to other groups.  I vaguely remember a phase in high school when your identity was defined by whom you looked up to. Even now, the characters you like give shape to who you think you are yourself, and how you present that person to others.

Some religions condemn “worshiping an image of the divine”. In the context of society, I think they’re right. It is probably quite a pragmatic ethical decision to keep some initiative to yourself instead of blindly following whoever you think holds truth or has the X-factor. Still, idolatry exists, and what’s more: masses simply obey strong individuals on many occasions.

I just wonder: how would a society look which is not based on this deep inner urge to follow impressive individuals? Would it be leaderless? Would such a society have brought us to where we are now? Could it even exist?

E – ethics

Blogbrowsers and twittering birdies, anyone who uses e-mail really may have noticed. The internet society is passing a stage. We’re now shaping codes of conduct .

Internet has been a place for frustrated individuals to flame their anger to innocent people around. By remaining anonymous, offenders could exclaim just about anything and get away with it. Now, something else is happening.

With the emergence of Facebook and, more importantly, blogs, people are creating a space for themselves on the world-wide web. A cyber-identity. People literally identify with this space, it becomes part of their image, and perhaps even part of what they consider to be “themselves”. The interaction of these cyber-identities interact is in some ways not so different from a face to face conversation. As these identities get closer and closer to who we really are, it becomes more and more important to behave according to the rules.

Internet communication used to be dependant on the provider of the space for communications such as forums and chatrooms. Now, as people have their own webpages, there is no authority to tell us what to do. I have seen several bloggers who express their vision on the way to behave internet wise. Be constructive, be patient, be respectful, don’t copy paste without a mention of the author, be honest. That kind of stuff. The dos and don’ts of daily life are entering the internet. I find that interesting.

Online happenings are starting to matter more. The global E-society is growing up. We are growing into the web, and soon we will become it. No more games, it is reality now.

Scary, isn’t it? Should we avoid it? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t like to miss it. Curiosity has taken over.

Politics

On the first day of spring, I sit inside. A part of me wants to stay involved with interesting developments in this country. This will is apparently stronger than the will to enjoy what I have been longing for for months. Or is it the will to get away? Anyway, I’m in a room in Arnhem, where tables are put concentrically. Here, I listen to the words of people who strive for politics from the heart. Take part in them.

Everybody I know who has read the political program of the Partij van Mens en Spirit, written in 2008, feels that this is the first good political party they know. It’s a beautiful set of plans and visions where freedom and the own responsibility are central. Today, we are here to take a first step in the renewal of this program because concrete points rapidly become old fashioned.

Lea is the chairwoman. I’ll have a thorough chat with her tonight, while we enjoy a glass of red wine together. She is a nice middle aged woman with experience in politics and she knows how to lead this small crowd. She listens attentively to the suggestions the public makes in the themes of education, healthcare and food production. Some people have quite peculiar opinions about life and how these themes should be arranged. Interesting experiences. Some lose the point. Lea gently steers them back.

My most burning question is simple: how can a political party be spiritual? Or: how can something spiritual take the form of something as a party? Isn’t politics about power? About poking each others’ eyes out? Leas answer is simple and clear. Politics is a community service. It should aid and facilitate the good existing initiatives in society. A good answer, I’d say. Connected, but with an identity. But this will not be the end of it. Strong as the ideals of this party may be, it’s spiritual approach is its ultimate fragility. I stay curious and will keep observing this from up close.