If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


11 JUNE 2017

Can You Tell Us?

DELFT - Of late, I have spoken with people here in Delft about American politics. Generally, each conversation ends in confusion; what is happening in the US? I do not live there, not anymore, so I cannot sense why the US is suddenly changing.

I'm among those who think of the Media in terms of Chicken Little, the one in the children's tale that runs around yelling that the Sky Is Falling! Even held away at arm's length, what I hear from the US, daily without any intermission, frightens me. Say what you wish about the last half of the 20th century and the state of the US nation, a whole lot of things became so much better for most people living there. America did not solve all its problems nor meet all its goals, but we were trying to.


"The American president has withdrawn his country from the Paris Accord on Climate Change. Mr. Macron of France responded with Make the Planet Great Again in answer to Make America Great Again. Here, we are wondering and ask is there any gain for the US in this? Is it strictly local politics? It seems so..."

Tolerance was a struggle and still is. I remember race riots, burning inner cities and hatred often expressed violently. Our differences were cheered, even cherished, while our similarities were ignored. That changed gradually as people tried harder to understand the 'other'.

When I was a kid, the Chinese wore Mao suits and rarely were allowed outside their country, Red China as it was called. Today, near a third of the tourists in Delft come from China. The world has sure changed from the way it used to be and that within my own lifetime. Perhaps because we know so much more about strange 'foreigners' than we used to: credit technology, communication and the notion we are all in this together. The Space Station beams down photos of one planet, with no borders visible.

American society did not solve racial discord, but as a whole we tried hard to improve and to be honest about our long-held prejudices. No one was allowed to shirk that because it was written into our laws.

We agreed that all our children, no matter their parent's income, were to be valued as an essential resource. We wanted them to eat well, live in safe neighborhoods and have the chance for the best education possible.

We agreed that women, the ones who actually carry and give birth to babies, should have all options to choose from in that. Men father but do not bear thus may not decide for women. It is a matter of respect, for all.

We agreed men had more options. Men saw that to nurture is fulfilling, that they did not have to be in a uniform, that any could choose to put on a uniform to 'be all that you can be' or not and still be worthy, manly.

Not long ago the US was an example, a hopeful beacon for humanity, like the one held by the Statue of Liberty, a gift from an admiring France. By the way, Holland still does not have a government, but it only bothers politicians.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen