We Dutchies have perfected the short fuse.
Coming from a very relaxed "Peace, man!" Seventies into a frenetic Eighties where all Hippy ideals were put out together with the garbage, straight into yuppie selfish me first and the world much later Ninety-dom complete with house music and shaved heads, gliding into the complacent after-party of the Millennium and wham-bam! into the crises 2010 and onwards.
As I said: short, very short fuses.
The funny thing is that most (if not all) religions teach us to be calm and to not let our tempers rule us.
I've not made a secret of my agnosticism (which runs over into my very own brand of Paganism combined with Zen, if the mood takes me), but I am open to religious philosophy and admire prophets and seers who tell us to be peaceful and non-violent. So the non-irritability "ity" of the swami lies comfortably in my being.
I like unflappable people. In fact, as far as I'm concerned "unflappability" could well have been the 19th ity. I remember sitting on the Tube platform while there was a sudden strike on, amidst hot and bothered angry people trying to get home from the office, and seeing an unflappable middle-aged man in a bowler hat eating a banana, cool as a cucumber, oozing peace and tranquility.
Whenever I am in danger of losing my cool, I try to envisage this man. It usually works, but not always.
Why do we have such sort fuses? Why do we scream at strangers to "shut the f*** up" complete with deadly diseases before the noun of his or her gender?
I witnessed this only last Saturday. My over-the-road young neighbour (22) had a drunken fight in the street with his equally drunk girlfriend, at 2 in the morning. They screamed at each other, waking up the entire street. (I later found out that I was not the only middle-aged woman keeping watch 'just in case' of it getting out of hand). After they had reached an impasse, but kept on screaming, abusing and shouting, one of my more outspoken neighbours yelled at them to keep it down a bit. That's all: "keep it down a bit". Both of them screamed back at her, both used words like 'cancer' 'whore', 'slut' 'typhoid' (all the worst Dutch swearwords one can use), telling her not to meddle.
The strange effect was that the young couple found each other in this, so their argument died down a bit.
But why? I do not know. A theory is that our society is too fast, too busy, too many people on a very small plot of land, too many 'foreigners', too many different cultures. But also too much 'doctored' food, too much sugar, too much alcohol, not enough social control, not enough empathy. Not enough patience. A drifting away from all those religious teachings telling people to turn the other cheek?
It's worrying. On the other hand, there is a small but very persistent movement towards getting back those old values. The crisis has made people realise a bit more that they need each other. That being kind costs nothing, but has great value.
I wish you a peaceful evening!