The world sucks a lot and so does a lot of media coverage. Thankfully there were certain events that happened about a week ago that reminded me that there are still great things happening in the world in the middle of everything tragic and insane. This is a post to celebrate those 3 specific things that lit up my heart and my hope.
Lena Dunham's legs
THOSE LEGS really made me feel so genuinely happy, even though they shouldn't, because they are pretty average legs. It is in fact insane that I must feel happy surprise of all feelings upon seeing those legs adorning the cover of a mainstream women's magazine. In a perfect world, I would be more likely to feel indifferent about seeing two very common legs on a very basic magazine! Nevertheless, in our current world, unrealistic (photoshopped) or extremely rare bodies are privileged to be displayed in magazines, as magazine producers know those bodies have a strange and unconscious attraction to us, while at the same time, we unconsciously begin to believe that those bodies are real, and that everything unlike them is wrong. But darling, if it's too good to be true it is usually false. So naturally I am glad that there's finally a magazine that has chosen to keep it real and put an un-photoshopped pair of legs on its cover. Does that mean that we should find these legs beautiful or attractive? No, I don't think so. We can find it very well hideous or even disgusting. I think proclaiming that 'everyone is beautiful' is just as unrealistic as the type of legs we usually see in magazines. Nevertheless we should appreciate it very much that it is at least acceptable and possible to have any type of body on a magazine cover, and that a person can be on there without being photoshopped into somebody else. Photoshopped, fake legs should not be the only type of legs to make a chance of being on a magazine cover. Every body should have the chance to be on there as its authentic self. And we should create a culture in which no single type of body on a magazine cover can surprise us anymore.
Meryl Streep's Golden Globes-speechAnother great thing that happened recently is Meryl Streep's fantastic speech at the Golden Globes 2017, where she received an award for her contribution to the world of entertainment. She used her acceptance-speech, those few minutes in which everyone would listen to her, and her position, to address the most dreadful event that happened to the United States of America and the world in the past year. I am glad to see that there are people out there who do use their position and power to strive for what's good, even if it's just by reminding your fellow powerful and famous colleagues of their position and public duty in your Golden Globes-speech. In this speech, Meryl Streep speaks to the Hollywood Foreign Press and all Hollywood-actors, about their duty towards society. She very accurately notes that "Hollywood", "Foreigners" and "the Press" all belong to "the most vilified segments of American society right now". And more importantly: "Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if you kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts", referring to Donald Trump's proposed immigrants policy. Then she goes on to the very neatly constructed core of her speech, in which she remarks the danger of a humiliating man in a powerful position, and what they [Hollywood and the press] could do to prevent the humiliating and disrespectful behavior of this man to become normalized in society, and explains why it freedom of press is such an utterly important constitutional right.
"An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like. And there were many, many, many powerful performances this year that did exactly that, breathtaking, passionate work.
There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.
And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the most powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth."
I found her words so incredibly strong and touching, and somehow comforting as they show that there are still clever people living in the United States. 'Cause that's what she is. What she basically says in her speech is: 'Whatever a man promises he would do as a president, it doesn't matter when core aspects of modern civilization are not his own.' Besides being able to think and breath, a president should at least be able to make these core aspects his own. If not, he would rather qualify for a president of a prehistoric society. I was impressed listening to this speech, not only because of the accurate content and neat structure, but also because of her initiative to speak those words as soon as she got the chance, even if that chance would be her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Meryl Streep is da bomb.
Jesse Klaver, party leader from GroenLinks, going around the country as part of the election campagneFor a long time I claimed to be a supporter of D66, a social-liberal political party, but after I went to the 'Election Meet-up' by GroenLinks in Nijmegen (for which 1200+ people showed up! - this is a lot, considering it was snowing that night) and heard party leader Jesse Klaver speak, I claim to be a HUGE supporter of GroenLinks, a progressive, leftist, socialistic, green party. I literally agreed with Jesse Klaver in anything he said. Maybe I got brainwashed, but after the meet-up I felt incredibly impressed with this man. But honestly, if you're running for premier at age 30 while having been a House of Representatives' member for 7 years already, you must be pretty heroic. He is amazingly charismatic and you can really tell that he strongly believes in his ideals. That is surely something we can use in our politics. Also, he is by far the most handsome politician our country knows, just saying.
D66 and GroenLinks don't differ that much in perspectives, so I would be very happy if either one wins the elections, and both parties will get along quite well if they'd have to rule together. Nevertheless I now feel much more connected to GroenLinks than I ever felt to D66.
It started a while ago when I came across this video on Facebook, that showed a project by a photographer to address the immense problem of plastic pollution. I was shocked to learn that it takes 450 years for a single plastic bottle to degrade, that there will be more plastics than fish in the sea by the year 2050, and that 50% of the plastic ever used is only used once. Basically, if we keep producing more and more plastic, there will soon be plastic everywhere, it just won't leave our planet! Imagine that! This bothered me so much - like I even get annoyed when I see a single plastic bottle lying around in nature. I also felt quite stupid and ignorant for not being aware of this before! To me this was a true wake-up call, and I immediately signed the pledge to re-use plastic and reduce the amount of plastic in my life, that came with the project mentioned called 'Mermaids Hate Plastic' (I will share later how I now try to reduce [plastic] waste in my life). (Of course there are many other ways by which humans pollute their own planet, like waste of water and energy and clothes and food and pollution of the air et cetera, but I consider plastic pollution as the worst - I might find other things equally bad as soon as I learn more about them, and I'll let you know). Anyway, this photographer's efforts to make plastic pollution more discussable is the very point when sustainable development became one of my core values in life. For all my life I viewed the environment as something other people worried about, unaware of the great impact it truly has, and possibly only because it didn't affect me directly. Now I know that the threatening of the environment is a lot bigger deal than I'd thought. It's a scary thing that threads us humans too. And now I've seen a little more of the world I am quite determined that we should not let the beauty of this world's nature go to waste.
Later I came across this campagne video by GroenLinks and as sustainable development is something that identifies the party, it immediately got me interested in it. That's why I decided to go to the party's [free of charge!] 'Election Meet-Up' in Nijmegen, where Jesse Klaver and some others would come to speak about the party's ideals and plans. Not just for people who are supportive of GroenLinks, but especially for people who are uncertain about their own political preferences, or people who simply don't know much about the party's views. This meet-up by itself, even before I went, got me incredibly enthusiastic: a meeting where a party's leader would speak to everyone who would want to listen, a meeting that was made aware of through Facebook (and therefore reaching a lot of people under the age of 30) - this meeting was something no other party had ever done before, it was a great initiative to make politics more accessible for everyone and not just people who have an innate interest in politics; it was perfect in the context of modern politics, in which there is more involvement of citizens! I loved the idea and found it brilliant. Fun fact: when Jesse Klaver finally appeared on stage that night, the song 'I Gotta Feeling' by the Black Eyed Peas started playing, as if they were trying to say: 'Politics are fun, and tonight is gonna be a good night.'
I was especially excited to hear Jesse Klaver speak (in just a few days I had developed an intense instant crush on him). And when he did, I was not disappointed once. This guy literally knows what to say to everything and it is always clever! Honestly, I was impressed. Besides that Jesse Klaver is very firm in his belief in his ideals (something we could use in the politics of country!), I noticed that GroenLinks is a party that does not only claim certain ideals for the long term, it is a party that tries to turn those ideals into actions. It is a party that acknowledges certain problems, while at the same time thinks in terms of solutions . And when it comes to those solutions, this party looks at the causes of a problem and tries to address those! These things all seem so obvious, yet many parties don't seem to get the heck of it! And, like Jesse Klaver explained to us, many see our society as a market instead of a society. It is all about the money in this world, but what about humanity and equality? What about the things that are truly important in the world, like health, education, a comfortable home, equal chances, and empathy?
After listening to Jesse Klaver's speech, I knew for sure: GroenLinks is the party I want to vote for. Why? Here are some things that I know from his speech, plus some things that made me switch from D66 to GroenLinks:
- Naturally, GroenLinks wants a greener country. This is the very party that truly acknowledges environmental problems as pollution, waste and resource depletion. And those are things that will become more and more important over the years as those problems grow increasingly. GroenLinks wants to give climate change and protection of planet earth priority - and this is necessary. Some people may say that the problems people experience now should go first, but really, if we don't do anything now, we won't have a planet to experience any problems on anymore. They say people love their children more than anything - if that's true, they would care an incredible lot for the world that their offspring has to live in!
- GroenLinks strives to improve our country. And this is a large difference between D66 and GroenLinks. D66 claims to be the 'optimistic party'. Sure, we should stay positive! But it is unrealistic to say that The Netherlands are doing great on average at some major indicators, while there is still so much shitload going on. Maybe not for me, but certainly for a lot of other people who are perhaps less fortunate in circumstances and income. Like every country we've got problems, and there may be less problems here than in other countries, but people in this country don't care for being compared to other countries, it is about the problems that affect us right here. A lot of people are dissatisfied, and I don't expect those people to vote for a party that pretends we're doing quite alright. They don't care for being better if only relatively speaking. GroenLinks stands for real solutions to the problems that people in this country experience on a daily base. Even though Jesse Klaver is a man of ideals, he knows how to put those ideals into practice. And this is something I'm missing in D66 sometimes: they are equally idealistic, but they don't focus as much on actively actualize those - again, because they largely believe that The Netherlands are doing pretty well (at least compared to ten years ago, and compared to other countries) and all they need to do is prevent things from going bad and maybe reinforce the good things a little. That's why I feel sometimes their ideals are just hypothetical, and they have a fear for change (just as many satisfied people in this country though).
- GroenLinks wants to change the way that politicians often think about health care, education and our society, which is, less in terms of numbers and euros. Jesse Klaver is against 'economism', the way people tend to think that they can manage everything as if it's a fabric in which people are products and machines, that our society is like a market, that money is the most valuable thing in life, and that they can think of everything in numbers...For example: "someone who needs health care, is a product in the health care industry" or the way every child has to go through the same educational system as if its a fabric, even though no child is the same. And when people think in numbers and indicators, based on which they will act, many things are not taken in consideration. For example: when it was calculated that the melting of the North Pole benefits our economy, the environment was not taken in consideration. So basically, GroenLinks wants to think in terms of what's intrinsically important in things like health care and the educational system, which is obviously respectively health and education.
- GroenLinks is against inequality in chances, but also against great inequality between incomes. For quite some time I found it unfair if people with a large income had to pay higher taxes in order to minimize differences in wealth. I found it unfair that hard working people who earned a lot of money (either because they worked hard or because they spent ages in colleges, or both) had to give so much of that money away to the less financially fortunate. I saw my own poor hard working dad, who worked more hours than he didn't and who spent half of his life in college to achieve such a job in which he would finally be rewarded with a convenient income. This is largely why I had come to the conclusion that taxes are unfair. I liked the idea of the 'American dream', in which anyone can become anything if only he works hard. I thought that people who worked hard to achieve their goals should be rewarded in some way. What motivation would there be if there would not be any reward for such efforts? But now I realize that high taxes for the rich won't make everyone have an equal income, it will at least make the poor have a convenient life and the rich have an above average convenient life, although slightly less convenient than if they would pay less taxes. There will always be differences between poor and rich, and I think those should exist for the same reasons that I initially thought of taxes as unfair. But I don't think that the poor should live in inhumane conditions while others live a more than convenient life! How could one enjoy his wealth if he knows there are people in his own country that live a life that is hardly to be called humane? I would love to pay some more taxes so someone else can have a life that is at least to be called comfortable (although I believe that GroenLinks mainly wants large companies pay the taxes they now largely avoid). (Note: in countries like Denmark, people are actually happy to pay taxes, as they can actually see the positive results of it: it comes back to them in advantaged common goods). And YES there are still incredibly poor people in The Netherlands! As Jesse Klaver claims himself, there are still 400.000 children who live in poverty in this country. Children who can't go on school trips or buy a gift for a friend's birthday because they don't have the money. I found it horrible to learn that this is still happening in this country today! And as Jesse Klaver puts it: As long as there are still 400.000 children who live in poverty, we should not care about how our country is doing on income inequality compared to other countries.
- According to Jesse Klaver, every Dutch civilian, regardless one's origins or background, is part of the Dutch population and is equal. Everyone is part of a society in which wealth is shared and people take care of each other. GroenLinks wants a society in which connection and empathy and altruism are key aspects. Another important thing that GroenLinks stands for, is a humane treatment of refugees, who are, just like us, human beings. I personally don't think we should let every single refugee live in this country, especially when there are other, larger countries who could give some of them a home as well - but as long as there are refugees living in inhumane conditions in refugee camps somewhere at the border of Europe, dying from the cold (is this WWII?!), while we still got plenty of space to share, then we should. It is what every single one of us would wish we would do if they were refugees themselves.
At this age I have come to realize many things - and maybe that's what becoming an adult feels like: when things come together like that, and you kinda feel like you've wasted too much time at being ignorant and thinking things that are irrelevant now. At first, D66 largely stood for the things that I found important. I agreed with the party in that weed (and other drugs) should be legalized and that euthanasia should become easily possible, and I still think those are things that should be realized in this country, but I think we should first go back to the core and fix what's to be fixed there before striving for such details (nevertheless I think it's important that a party who focuses on details is part of the government, too). Now I think that sustainable development, health care, education, income equality, and support of refugees are things that are more important right now. Even though I support both D66 and GroenLinks, for me personally it has become clear that the values of GroenLinks may be a little more important in my life. Nevertheless, this can be different for your life. Jesse Klaver agrees, and told us that we should pick a party that suits us best, and not the other way around: a party should not adjust its ideals based on what the people want. A party should stick to its own ideals and the people should pick a party they agree with on the things that are most important to them, as you will most likely not agree with everything - because that's what's democracy is.
The world has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Are we gonna go on the way we are going? Or are we gonna change? A lot of people are dissatisfied with the current leaders of this country, and they want change. So even though I agree at many points with D66, I think at this time it is ignorant to fear change like them. We need change. We need modern politics, we need politics to adapt to our modern world and not to the world we used to live in 30 years ago. And if we're gonna choose for change, it will be either PVV or GroenLinks. I would rather vote for change that addresses problems with realistic solutions and hope instead of hate and fear.
IF you don't want a Trump-like situation here in this country, then at least VOTE for something - anything, I don't care, as long if you do (it is your democratic duty, but also your democratic blessing. Unless you'd rather live under a dictatorship). Even if you don't care for politics, even if you're satisfied with the way this country is being ruled - there are a lot of people who aren't, and they will go and vote. If you don't want those dissatisfied people to make the choice for you, and if you don't want this country to go down the tubes, then please VOTE.