Good evening from the still warm Wetlands.
I have spent some considerable time reading the comments from foreign correspondents (Time, the Guardian, the NY Times, the Times and others) about how my fellow countrymen mourn. As if it is a rare event to be studied and commented upon.
Which strikes me as somewhat strange. Don't they know how to mourn themselves? Is there a difference between the mourning of the Brits after the London bombings, or that of the Americans after 9/11? Or even further back, the Scots after Lockerbie?
How do you measure grief?
If you cover a street with bunches of flowers, is that 'better' mourning than when you cover a fence with photographs?
If you sit in front of the TV watching news coverage of the disaster for hours on end, have you felt deeper emotion than when you cry furiously for 5 minutes whilst doing the laundry, and then dry your tears and decide life must go on?
How nice of you to tell the world that 'the Dutch' are a sober people, who only get emotional when the national football team wins.
Bullshit. With respect, but bullshit.
I was there in 1980 when an estimated 2 million Dutchmen marched through Amsterdam against the nuclear armaments that the US stored in our country.
I was there (again in 1980) when thousands of emotional Dutchmen lined the streets of Amsterdam to welcome and thank the Canadians and Brits who had liberated the city in 1945.
I witnessed the outrage of a huge part of the population only last March when right-wing politician Geert Wilders orchestrated a café full of racists to shout that all Moroccan inhabitants should leave the country.
Come visit a pop festival, our Gay Pride, our Rotterdam carnival, and see how 'sober' and 'un-emotional' we are.
Yes. 'We' have tried our best to react with dignity, and have put emotion on hold, in an effort to keep those thugs in Eastern Ukraine cooperating, for 'we' wanted those victims brought home. All victims, I hasten to add, not just the Dutch ones.
And I (and this time I use I for this is my personal conviction) am certain that not all Ukrainian separatists are thugs. You see, again I am emotional. I cannot let myself believe that they all looted, and rejoiced. I have seen photos of ordinary people, old women, crying and grieving for the victims. And of men tirelessly walking those fields of death, trying to locate the body parts.
I must keep believing in the fundamental kindness of humankind. Also in Eastern Ukraine.
Yesterday thousands upon thousands of ordinary folk lined the streets, motorways and flyovers to pay their respect to the first 40 coffins filled with body parts that arrived from the Ukraine. They applauded, they cried, they prayed, they threw flowers, they sang, they were silent.
They all mourned in their own private way, but collectively at the same time.
Facebook has exploded with ordinary people posting poems, songs, drawings, photos, or a few lines to express their emotion.
And still you call us sober and unemotional... look again.