Day 1719, perpendicular.

Day's pictures, Poetry

If you believe the American/Hollywood culture there are such groups as Italian, Irish, Colombian, Japanese and many more American flavors. They’re portrait as quite distinct from your “normal” Americans. I get this fascination with focusing on the differences, but I hope that people understand that we are for 95% the same in our behavior, in similar situations. I don’t know if it is 95%, that’s a guess.

I am Dutch, and I have some ways of doing things that I have seen more among other people that lived around me in the Netherlands. They say that those are “typical” Dutch behaviors so I pay more attention to them and as a consequence of that attention, I see them more, ignoring the majority that lacks them. I do the same, but in reverse, here in Norway where I live now. They told me, and I read it in books that Norwegians are I some behaviors different than a typical Dutch person. I noticed that they are less organized and more individualistic at work. I worked in different places throughout the country and and I see the similarities. I think we really approach work and organizing differently but focusing on this, and blowing it out of proportion, I might have forgotten that there are many more things we do the same.

I have an anecdote regarding the Dutch and, in this case, the Norwegians. I thought that I came up with this idea but not so long ago I read it also in a book, so I think that “my idea” is somewhat of an exaggeration, but you never know. It goes like this: In the Netherlands we have to build dikes to keep out the water. The one thing that is unique about a dike compared is that everybody that lives behind the dike needs to take care of his or her part of the dike. If one fail’s, everybody is doomed. During the centuries we (the people living in the river delta where later the Netherlands was established) learned to work together and come up with systems to insure the safety of everybody. You can imagine that a thousand farmers in Norway can more or less do what they want at there farm without it effecting there neighbors to much. I think that this anecdote can explain how a behavior slowly grows and gets past on to each following generation. But, for the last 150 years or so you can put the people that take care of the “dike” systems in the Netherlands in a few buses. I have admired the dikes and waterworks in the Netherlands but I never put a shovel in the ground to help, the closest I came was electing the new boss of the departments that maintains it all. So at best I have some lingering “organizing” meme* in me.

The poem that inspired me today was from Day 922


my thoughts and the soil I left

high above I fly.

I read it and thought: my thoughts about my heritage and behavior are not based on a broader understanding of the country and culture I am from. My thoughts comprise at most the place of my footprint, they go “perpendicular” up and that’s my knowledge, and from there I “fly” away

* According to Dawkins, “the meme exemplified another self-replicating unit with potential significance in explaining human behavior and cultural evolution.

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