The Christmas speech of King Willem-Alexander:
“For many of you, there is a shadow of worry about this Christmas time.” “These are tough times,” people say to me. Is there enough money to pay the bills now that everything has become so expensive? Where can I finally find a suitable home or a room for a student? And what about the future of my company?
These are also confronting times. After all, doesn’t climate change force us to make drastic choices? And in our country, with its limited space and conflicting interests, do we not run up against limits? It is obvious that we can no longer move difficult decisions forward. Palliatives and emergency bandages no longer help. Things must change.
That confronts us with the question of where we want to go. What kind of society do we actually want? And how do we hold on to our values – freedom, equality, social justice – on the way to a new balance?
Very complicated! I understand the uncertainty that can be felt in many places. The stress and also the anger.
It can then be a relief to let off steam. But we should not get stuck in the search for scapegoats and in cynical criticism or indifference.
Democracy does not mean that those who shout the loudest get their way. Democracy is working together with respect for everyone’s fundamental rights on solutions with which the majority can identify. This involves careful consideration of all interests.
The latter is essential, for example in the relationship between rural and urban areas. It is high time to strengthen the connection. After all, what would the Randstad be without the Region? And the Region without the Randstad? We desperately need each other.
Let’s try – wherever we live – to escape prejudice. Let’s make sure we don’t lose each other! At the very least, give each other the benefit of the doubt. My appeal to each of you is: hook up, listen, think along, and join in!
Sometimes it can help to look outwards and pull us up to the example of others. Like the Ukrainian people who have been standing up to the brutal violence of Russia for ten months now, with incredible courage and unity. The promise of Christmas – the hope for peace – lives in all Ukrainian hearts and in ours.
The wisdom of the elderly can also offer inspiration. I am reminded of Gratitude, a small book by neurologist Oliver Sacks, written at the end of his life. It made him happy to see young, talented people all around him. “The future is in good hands,” he writes.
‘The future is in good hands.’ I’m happy to repeat it to him. I meet them everywhere. Young people with ideals and imagination. They feel partly responsible and are willing to take the future on their shoulders.
There is so much resilience in the young generation! But young people can’t do it alone. They rightly say: ‘Don’t put it all on us. Listen to us, give us space, trust us, help us, but take the responsibility yourself and make it happen!’
We don’t always realize it, but we are capable of much more than we think. I am convinced that we can also bring very complex problems to a successful conclusion and heal painful wounds so that we can go further together. Even if there are strong emotions involved.
An important example of this is the recognition of the suffering inflicted on people in colonial times.
Over the past year, my wife and I have been talking to people of all ages about this topic, including descendants of people who lived in slavery several generations back. In the coming commemorative year, this will keep our attention. We remain involved.
For what was then done to inhumane things in the lives of men, women, and children, no one is now to blame. But by honestly facing our common past and acknowledging the crime against humanity that was slavery, we are laying a foundation for a common future.
A future in which we resist all contemporary forms of discrimination, exploitation, and injustice.
The apologies offered by the government are the beginning of a long road. Let’s keep holding each other, even in intense times with strong emotions.
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld wrote his own poem when he abandoned the translation of The Hill We Climb after a fuss. It’s called Everything Habitable. A combination of empathy, hope, and faith in our future together.
These are the last lines:
You want fraternization, you want one fist, and maybe your hand is
not yet powerful enough, or do you have to do the other person’s first
grabbing to reconcile, you must actually feel the hope
that you are doing something that will make the world a better place, even if you shouldn’t
forgetting: after kneeling, get back up and straighten the back together.
I wish you all – wherever you are and whatever your personal circumstances – a blessed Christmas.”