Monday, August 06, 2007


These past two weeks have been pretty hectic with Jan and Joel both home. We've been out a lot, travelling all over on trains and busses. The train conductor actually recognized us : Hey, aren't you the family from yesterday?

Yesterday, we went to the beach at Noordwijk. It was one of the warmest days we've had so far, and everyone came up with the same idea to go to the beach. So, it was quite a tight sqeeze on the bus. Coming home, we had to fold Samuel's buggy and I had to get on the bus with Samuel in my arms. I thought I'd have to stay standing for the entire trip, but there was this really nice girl who stood up and offered me her seat. (Actually two people offered, one was an older woman and there was this girl who must have been about 18 years old). It was such a kind deed, that I wanted to say something like God bless you or Bless you, but I wasn't sure she'd be open to being blessed, so instead I blessed her silently and went and said thank you again when we got down at the Central Station.

Later, I found it worth remarking on that in a full bus the only ones to offer were women, whereas the men just sat there like lumps o'logs and looked straight ahead with this determined look that says: I don't see that Mother with her baby in her arms and if she loses her balance, that's her fault for squeezing on the bus.

I had to reflect on this culture that's so focused on the "me" aspect. Where I don't care what happens to my neighbour or to my fellowman as long as "I'm good" and "I've got my life together". It's such a selfish notion, and while Dutch folks are generally speaking quite generous when it comes to helping the poor and underprivileged, they can be pretty hard on each other. There's a shortage of lovingkindness in this culture -- I don't know if it has to do with all the freedoms folks are allowed, but I want my kids to grow up knowing that lovingkindness is a good thing and getting ahead isn't everything in life. I know it's got to begin with me, and I've started checking myself...have I shown someone some lovingkindness today?

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