“2013 was a happy year for investors. While the buying power of many people took a dive and unemployment was on the rise, the stock market did see a 100% increase of stock prices since March 2009. The 300 richest people in the world did see their pile of money topped with another 380 billion euro.” So far the newspapers. What more do you want to know about our economic system? That spending 50 billion euro on Olympic games is not a problem although the world is full of need and trouble? It is a rotten system, a permanent source of disaster for millions and millions of people. No reason though to be surprised, stupid admiration of status symbols and looking at the possession of a lot of money as if it was a quality support the system. Ridiculous and pathetic – how much do you really understand about life if that’s your point of view – is the adoration of money an illness that ruins the roots of our society. At the end of the year several lotteries in the Netherlands poured out enormous prices, accompanied by the message that pure happiness was provided. When in a small village tens of millions of euro’s landed, the population cheered in a way that suggested the outbreak of eternal peace in the world. Happiness at last! Happiness, you must be kidding. The very hungry caterpillar, a slimy creature, creeps around and will never become a butterfly.
It’s early in the morning. Last night I arrived from the Netherlands, I’m home again. To sleep was not an option, I just couldn’t, too much going on in my head. A lot happened while I was in Holland. A new year, we’re going to make something good out of it is what we said to each other, together! Wonderful encounters but, with the year just a week old, we were reminded of the vulnerability of life in a very painful way. A friend, an eminent man and thinker, is no longer with us. The colors of thankfulness and sadness make a wondrous mix then. Even in Bali I can hear his, sometimes hesitating, careful considered words, in its tone a love for life, mankind always in the focus. He is no more; with all he sowed that’s only partly true. To make a good year together doesn’t exclude him.
Oleh oleh. No, that’s no Spanish, it’s about presents I had to bring back home. Coming home without oleh-oleh, a souvenir/present, is simply not done in Indonesia. It’s quite okay if it’s small, insignificant, cheap and useless, that doesn’t matter. It’s about the thought ‘I didn’t forget you while I was away’. A custom too beautiful to neglect but also a problem because what can I bring? I asked Pak Par what he wanted but he didn’t answer. It’s called malu, shy/ashamed. I’ll send a text-message he said and so he did. A pair of short pants if that wasn’t asked too much. Short pants in wintery Holland, difficult and expensive. The driver that brought me to the airport advised me to stop at a supermarket on the way back. Plenty and cheap. A no of course, no cheating. But I had to think of something, for Par, for Ibu Putu, for the help, for another friend… If it’s small and not too heavy it’s a pleasant obligation. Look, I’m back home and I didn’t forget you. Maybe it’s a lousy present but I thought of you. No going home without oleh oleh, they are my friends.
Friends? A bit over a week ago someone tried to break in a bit further down the road. The man was busted and the mob came (too) close to lynching him. The police didn’t know what to do, they couldn’t handle the crowd and probably didn’t want to either. Pak Par recalled the story with pleasure and a big smile when I arrived last night. They’ve done their best, together. The crowd was judge and executioner in one. Par’s son broke his hand – don’t think about the how of it – his uncle is in the hospital because all the commotion was too much for him. And, very very funny indeed, he’s in the same room as the burglar. No fear for repercussions, not from the police and not from the burglar who’s dying of brain damage. Pictures of Alex, South Africa, torture my thoughts again. The traffic that took a little curb, my taxi that didn’t want to stop and probably was right in not doing that, a young man being kicked in the head, again and again and again, whom was dying on the spot. God forsaken.
Pak Par didn’t work for a whole month now, ceremonies you know, nearer to you… The man of ‘he who is without sin…’ isn’t heard here in Bali either, the word god is, also in Bali, the most abused word ever.
Uganda prepares draconic laws to suppress the deepest feelings of many people, to love someone will become a crime. Nigeria is further on the road, similar laws are already approved by parliament. And of course there is Russia where gays, according to Czar Putin are welcome. A nice word for the stage and at the same time he implies that ‘they’ can’t keep their hands away from children. Not much new under the sun. Ignoring the almost comical statement by a British politician as that the recent floods in that country are caused by the implementation of gay marriage – how about the earthquakes in the north of the Netherlands I wonder – not too long ago Dame Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were talking on the same level. Libraries had to be cleansed of the filth that was, in fact, propaganda for being gay, gays couldn’t enter the US. And still so-called leaders are utter colossal stupidities or encourage the wind of intolerance deliberately for their own benefit. You choose, my guess is the latter. The cold wind of intolerance that starts a war.
A 29 year old man in Uganda, ‘suspected to be gay’, was beaten up till he died. You can go to jail or, with thanks to and help from so-called Muslims and Christians, be lynched. In Iran they just hang you. And all of them are serving god…, they say. It’s rather fear for what they recognize in themselves and don’t want to see; no man or woman is 100 % hetero of home sexual. Worry that someone might be persuaded by ‘propaganda’ to become gay – as if that is more fun, more convenient and pleasant and a good choice if only you’re told it exists – a simpleton excuse to avoid the confrontation with their deepest feelings. Everybody can love someone of the same gender, as good as I can love someone from the other. Certainly more reserved in it’s expressions, it is there nevertheless. Live with it and enjoy the ability to love.
Look at the guy at the picture, look at his gaze and don’t miss the little rainbow-flag because that’s the embodiment of his hope. His crime is that he loves another man and maybe – another indictment – that he longs for better and humane. How could one see that face without feeling compassion and even love? Does the hangman in Iran look his victims in the eye? Do judges, whom convict people because of who they are, look at them? In don’t think so, of course not! (self)Hatred blinds, they see nothing but an image of a homemade god. But who can see is responsible. I know, there is not much we can do in those countries. The man from the picture lives in Nigeria, if he’s still alive. I live in Bali. But where I can sow I just have to. Little seeds grow big trees, in time.
No clue with how many people and with whom we have to go to that opening in Sotchi, any relation with the Olympic ideal is long gone anyway.*** Just do it, go if you like. After the 50 billion euro’s already spent, who cares about some extra costs, proportions are lost after all. But spare me the twaddle about ‘the two separate worlds’ that sport and politics are. That is just bullshit and I assume the same hollow argument was used in 1936. Decide to go as a human being, humane. And maybe then you won’t go.
A New Year, we’re going to make something good out of it, together. I choose to believe that that’s exactly what we’re going to do. ‘If I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I still would plant an apple tree today’ said Marten Luther. The world is not perishing so lets plans woods, there’s not much time left.
*** Quite a discussion is going on in the Netherlands about the fact that king, queen, prime-minister and a few ministers will attend the official opening.