You know how festive days such as mother’s day and valentine’s day always get responses along the lines of “What’s the point of being nice to your mother / lover once a year? It should be done each and every day or not at all.”?
All though a tad cynical, these people are right, in a way. So are the people that say that emphasizing or reinforcing their love on this given day is an important reminder to not take such a beautiful thing for granted.
A national holiday we have in the Netherlands and that I write a blog about almost every year (see here and here) is our World War II remembrance day (4th of May), followed by Liberation Day (5th of May).
All though I have always payed my respects (two minutes of silence at 8PM) and always did my best to celebrate my freedom consciously, I must admit that lately, I feel like the previously mentioned cynics when it comes to remembrance day…
Every year I make an effort to ask my friends and co-workers what they will do when the clock hits 8 PM on the 4th of May. I always try to remind them that it is not just 2 minutes of “having to be quiet” but that these 2 minutes can be used to explore our own thoughts on the current state of the world and honor those who have died for the freedom we now so easily take for granted.
I always feel fired up and ready to act after liberation day. And then… NOTHING. Maybe I write a blog about my white privilege and dive into a couple of Facebook discussions and call my friends out on their inherent racism… But that’s it.
I feel icky just admitting that. I feel useless and I feel hypocritical. If only the world wasn’t collapsing under the weight of all the racism, bigotry and hate mongering, then I could act as if my help wasn’t needed.
But it is, and so is yours.
It seems the Dutch committee for 4th and 5th of May celebrations agrees that we all need a kick up the ass, and therefore decided the theme of this year’s WWII remembrance should be RESISTANCE. Even more, it has been decided it should be the theme of the whole 2018 calendar year…
Museums are adapting their exhibitions to this year’s theme and special education series are being compiled at schools, where WWII veterans and war heroes are stopping by to tell their stories.
I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, but the Dutch year of resistance happens to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The exact date of his murder was the 4th of April and on this day last week I watched the movie Selma.
The general story line and historical context were not new to me, as I hope it isn’t for anyone else. The film did however contribute to a better understanding on my side about what resistance entails.
It requires courage. It requires perseverance. It requires not taking “no” (or “wait” or “I can’t” or “It’s too hard”) for an answer. It requires caring more about the cause than your own well being.
As Dr King said in his legendary “I have a dream”-speech (which does not feature in the film, btw):
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
So yes; SOUL FORCE!! And now that I come to think about it, I actually wrote a blog about it just last week, only in the version of super woman Valarie Kaur. She didn’t call it Soul Force though. She called it revolutionary love.
And then former American president Jimmy Carter showed up at Stephen Colbert’s late show. Such a sweet and wise man; I had no idea! He reminded me of the willpower it takes to love those that seem undeserving of that love but the importance of doing it anyhow.
It seems my generation’s greatest purpose in life is to achieve inner peace or “zen” or a perpetual state of “Netflix & chill”. These are actually all thing I excel at, but I suddenly realize that being relaxed is making me complacent and -oh the horror-, indifferent.
I need to refuel my inner rage and channel it into something productive and less egocentrical.
Pff… I think I’ve even written about this before… What do I do to get out of this cycle?
I need to start planning some field trips.
Goals for the month of May:
- Visit at least one exhibition, museum or lecture that fits the “resistance” theme.
- Make a grumpy looking stranger smile.
- Think of a good present for my bf’s birthday.
- Bake a cake and eat it too, but with friends (especially the undeserving ones?). Or maybe it should be humble pie.
To be continued!