Where I´m coming from: I Love Holland!
I understand that people think that I don´t like to be at home: in the last ten years I didn´t spent even half of my days underneath the Dutch sun. Ok, that mainly says something about my home country´s terrible climate, but even when you include my time underneath the Dutch rain, it results I spent more time elsewhere.
I admit: that sounds more exotic than it is. Indeed, Belgium (five years) is abroad too.
And when I am home at times, just when I can be in a commercial center for more than ten minutes before I get anxious, just when I´m aware of the existence of traffic rules again and I´m not surprised anymore when the bus appears at the exact minute the timetable indicates, I´m leaving. Just when I caught up with what my friends and family are up to, when I feel like having bitterballen for dinner and when my peperkoek addiction is back at a "severe" level, just when I regained my ability to speak and write my mother tongue properly, I´m packing my bags.
“Are you already tired of it?” people ask me understanding, sometimes with pity in their eyes. Because Holland is flat, Holland is full of people and buildings, and if it weren´t the sea that would wash us away, we´d drown in our rules and protocols. Everyone´s been taken care of and everything´s extremely well organized. Predictable. Holland is boring. They understand that I want to get away. Once you´ve tasted the freedom of travelling, what would you be doing here?
Travellers loudly promote that thought everywhere on facebook, on their blogs and on birthdays. Get away, away from here! Freedom! Screw the rules and organization: anywhere else is better! Maybe that group of travellers is one of my least favorite groups of compatriots. Because all that organizing may seem to be a limitation of our freedom at first sight, but everyone who´s seen the other side of the medal in it´s full “glory”, dear fellow travellers, would at least like to nuance that a bit in my opinion.
In places with a lot less rules, freedom is generally very limited. Because living in freedom without too many laws means we should be able to carry the responsibility that comes with that. You only have to watch the news to see that that´s not something we have a big talent for. We want to do whatever we want, maximum freedom for us when we get the chance. We don´t understand that any freedom we take more than the optimal freedom, is at the cost of that of others, and thus of our own freedom and thus of that of us all. I guess that´s what they call "shooting in your own foot".
"Isn´t it nice that you´re freedom borders on that of others?"
Without statute laws there are rules too: moral and logical laws. When I steal something or kill someone, I justify that others do that too, to eachother and to me. That way I limit my own freedom by violating that of others. Not quite bright.
That´s also true for "softer" laws. Don´t drive through a red traffic light and don´t drink and drive if you don´t want that your child is run over by someone doing that. Don´t mislead the insurance and don´t apply for a welfare that you don´t really need, if you don´t want the premiums to go up. And the privilege to be able to contribute to the common services comes with the responsibility to do that, even if you´re not the one who directly benefits most from it. Any kind of inequality limits freedom for everybody, directly and indirectly. If I´m in the position to contribute to the benefits of others, I've had my share already anyway. That is no hippie-sentiment or generosity. That is responsibility, dry logic and saving my own ass in the end. To capacity.
Unfortunately, it seems that we´re too egoistic to be free without laws that prescribe us to be so. Ok, checking if the fridges´ rubbers in public eateries are sparkling clean doesn´t seem to add much to our optimal freedom directly. Neither does the existence of a whale-protocol (no kidding, we have one for when whales strand on our beaches), or the imaginary choice that every internet user is continually confronted with thanks to the cookie law: “Yes or yes, do you want to continue doing what you were doing?”
But although it may not really be necessary to fix the distance in centimeters to a monitor for office workers in the law, one appreciates the Health and Safety inspection when he sees a seventy-two year old carrier hobbling over the market with hurtful joints after sixty years of labor and with five full crates of vegetables tied to his back. Paying a substantial amount of money for your pension every month may not be the best fun you can imagine, but it´s still more fun that strolling around checking the garbage bags at night when you´re sixty-something. Because everyone else gets fined too when they don´t have their car checked for upcoming technical problems, chances are less that your niece is run over by a bus with failing breaks. And, dear students with a fancy iPhone and twenty hours of classes a week, you have to pay back your ridiculously easy-to-get student loan because you get a fairly cheap and high quality education in return, especially compared to other countries, that allows you to make the money to do that. Pretty cool, huh?
Basta. There´s no true freedom without responsibility. Freedom doesn´t mean that there are no obligations or that you can do whatever you want. It means that you have the optimal chances to develop yourself in whatever way, and that those optimal chances are equal for everybody. It´s not the government´s job to make things easy, but to make things possible so we can be free. And we are.
That is one of the main things that my travels taught me. There are few places in the world with more rules than my country has, just as few as there are places in the world where I would be truly as free as I am here. My family, my socio-economic status, the safety, my gender, my religion or the lack of it, my sexual or political preferences and the government have very little limiting influence on my choices and possibilities to develop myself in any way I want. And that is an exceptional amount of freedom that few people in the world have.
I´d say: that is very well… eeerm… organized!
So, ladies and gentlemen: I Love Holland. The less I´m there, the more I do.
I´ll see you under the Dutch or European sun (or rain, more probably) by the time I´m at the point where can´t wait to spend more than ten minutes in a commercial center again, mainly because of everything that´s indirectly part of that. Surely that time will come at some point, in a year or so (?)
But not yet…
Saludos de Quito!