Some people think it’s all to do with the Dutch mentality. Our little nation just isn’t tough enough. If you’re used to abject poverty and -25°C, like the Russians, then you want to succeed in order to escape all the misery. We just have it too good, so we can’t give it our all. And the desire to be the best just isn’t in our blood. Take a look at our education, for example. Whereas the Americans have set everything up so as to promote competition and to foster the top pupils, our schools are all about equal opportunities for all.
In order to become a professional dancer, you have to roll your sleeves up. And you really have to want to be the best to reach the absolute top. But as long as we keep to our national motto of ‘just do your thing and you’ll be fine’, there’s little incentive for our youngsters to make the best of themselves.
But there may be a change in the air. Because things aren’t so cosy here any more. The crisis means that we, too, are expecting a bleak winter, which will last for years. Even in the literal sense, as our winters are getting colder and colder. And we can also expect a new wind to blow throughout our country now Mark Rutte is at the helm. After all, he is the prime minister of the party that has traditionally always had more affinity with ‘the top’ than the ‘midfield’ (CDA) or the ‘lower classes’ (PvdA). Furthermore, he is the (self-declared) champion of the ‘hardworking Dutchman’, to whom he has pledged to ‘give back the country’. So that sounds like respect for hard workers and for those at the top, which may produce exactly the climate needed for encouraging top talent.
But will it actually happen?
If the government is to be believed, the wind has indeed changed. Get to it and buckle down is the message from The Hague. Stand out from the crowd. Achieve. Pull out all the stops. Holland must develop a winner’s mentality. The Dutch must learn to take responsibility again. We’ll all benefit from it, we hear Rutte saying over and over again. And then decency will return to our land again. An immediate stop will be put to the loutishness that’s frustrating the hardworking man in the street as a by-product of the ‘left-wing laissez-faire society’. Values and norms! Balkenende said it already – and now Mark, Maxime and Geert are really going to do it.
But what exactly do you mean, Mark?
All those PVV politicians who’ve passed each other political double jobs, cutting corners everywhere and nicely raking in more salaries? Is that the ‘pulling out stops’ you’re holding up to us as a model?
And all those PVV politicians who cause skirmishes, have shouting matches in Parliament or threaten people? Is that the ‘decency’ you want returned to society?
And the fact that the PVV holds the country in its grasp, yet refuses to take responsibility for government? Is that a good example of your call to the citizens to take responsibility.
Is this the wind of change blowing through our sluggish little country?
And nowadays there are several good examples for our talented youngsters to model themselves on. Take Johan Cruijff, for instance, who says he wants to make Ajax into a top club again. That sounds like an inspiring dash of the mentality of the good old VOC days! But we now know that Johan is never there himself when it comes to the crunch. At the important moments, he’s enjoying the Spanish sunshine while his club falls apart as a result of the chaos he’s caused himself. Other people are left to clear up the mess. But then they catch it time and time again, if Johan doesn’t get his way. A nice example of taking responsibility – à la Geert.
In short, if the idea of ‘following by example’ takes hold, we ought to be worried about the future of our talented young Dutch dancers growing up in these times. They are learning that you can get on your high horse without having to work for things yourself. And that you can get away with saying one thing and doing another. Soon it will be everybody else’s fault that they don’t reach the top, and not their own.
And yet there’s still hope. Because all the boys and girls who give their all to becoming a ballet dancer from a tender age really are the hardest-working Dutchmen of all. They stand out from the crowd, take responsibility, keep on persevering and can roll up their sleeves to eternity.
So I’d say, dear Mark Rutte, that if you’d care to give the country back to them from today, instead of to the PVV brigade, then everything will get sorted out in the nick of time.< blog archive