From the Flat Fields …to the distant shores

Text: Žikica Milošević

The Dutch mentality is really strongly defined by the landscape surrounding them and the Lutheran Reformation. It is not surprising then that the Dutch always fought the nature, finding the inner joy in the flat and sometimes grey landscape, and tried to reach beyond the opulent and lush visible beauty so frequently seen in the South.


Really, when can be more Dutch than the Dutch painters, like Vermeer, who captured the everyday life in his paintings? Or Rembrandt, who portrayed the common people, even when they were in the guard? Or what can be wittier than the elongation of the facades of the houses upwards, since the tax was paid for the length of the facade, or the length of the street you took and not the sky you took? The Dutch are the masters of celebrating simplicity of daily life, the common. They are gentle, smiling and helpful. They don’t believe that you can be a good man, let alon a good Christian, if you don’t do good deeds on the everyday basis. Therefore you have this strange feeling in the Netherlands that everyone is simple and nice, smiling and driving bicycles. The life is simple enough when you belong here, to paraphrase Morrissey. So shelve your Southern plans. Or whatever plans there are. This is the Netherlands, the home of thoes who will make you feel like home.


There are two opposing idea od Europe these days, and they sharply collide. And they are both somehow right, and they are both essentially European, but the crucial problem is that they don’t get along well. The first idea is coming from, say, Hungary and Poland. Europe can be best seen in Budapest and Krakow. These are truly European cities, as Europe used to be before, relatively monolingual but open-hearted to all guests. The other European idea comes from the other side of Europe, from the UK, France or the Netherlands. Yes, from those guys that had colonies all over the world and got used to many different religions, physionomies, races, languages, cuisines. The Dutch culture is arguably the most plurinational and multiracial in the whole Europe, since the percentage of the people not being European by ethnicity is highest in the Netherlands. Look at Amsterdam, which is a kind of a new Babylon. And hence the tolerance. Which extends to many interesting districts and relaxed attitude towards coffee-shops, but it is a true tolerance.


Toghether with a splendid physique, since the Dutch are the tallest people on the planet (OK, the Balkan peoples are very near behind) comes the love for sports. And what is love without ability? The tall people can play excellent volleyball and they are the football superpower. Also, don’t forget the plentitude of other sports, like field hockey, or cycling. If we take it all into consideration, we can see that the Dutch are not only the lovers of tolerance and travelling, of other cultures, of fun and sobriety strangely mixed, but also the lovers of healthy life too. Mens sana in corpore sano, they use to say, and the Dutch seem to apply it. Wait? Tolerance and travelling, other cultures, fun and healthy life? And sorbiety during work? And high standards of living? Say no more, say no more!

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