A better world

Back in the times when I was a little kid (quite a long time indeed) I did as most children did – trying to be the brilliant kid and get your parents to pay you a certain amount of money every week. I can’t even exactly remember the precise amount I was receiving, but it must have been around one guilder (approximately forty euro cents) a week. Of course this amount increased over time, as the favors I did in exchange. Since this was the only income I had at that time, I had to spend it wisely and consider every expense very carefully. Over time the amount I received increased and every consideration before a purchase became less… Since I knew there would always be a next week.

This must have been the incentive of Professor Muhammad Yunus to start the Grameen Bank and to provide micro credits to the poor in rural areas instead of providing the money for free. His idea is based on mutual trust where the borrowers are organized into small homogeneous groups, where the advantage of a group is the social bonding that creates a responsibility towards the other members. By using the combination of this social system while providing credits, the Grameen bank has been able to help almost four million people while maintaining one of the highest payback rates in the world.

A great initiative, in my opinion, that only works because they make the borrowers aware of their responsibility. Because of this responsibility, it triggers their creativity on spending the money wise and effective.

But what do we get presented today from Live 8, to do in favor of the poor countries?

  1. double the aid sent to the world’s poorest countries,
  2. fully cancel their debts,
  3. change the trade laws so that they can build their own future.

Of course a great gesture I can only and will applaud. However, knowing the above and looking at the second point, leaves me with some serious doubts. Do we really help and stimulate them to take more responsibility and creativity with this gesture? And besides, is it fair to countries that have been working really hard to pay off their debts? I am not so sure…

Take a step back

The world we are living in nowadays changes fast and can be tough to keep up with for an increasing amount of people. The expectations from the society are not easy to live up to!

Starting off with a good education is not enough for most companies. Besides your study, you should be participating in all kind of activities like being in the board of management of some study organization, been on an exchange program, perhaps do a second or even a third master course, and the list continues. Of course, social skills and personal development is a must, so activities as sports, participating in a student organizations and maybe even play a music instrument are not necessary but very much appreciated. When leaving your university at an early age, you are ready for the job market. At least, that is what you would expect. But what experience do you have in the business field? Right! None! So, you start at a basic salary while a trainee ship is all you could get at this stage of your career. Another two years of study, and you’d better pass all the exams, otherwise you are out!

Finally after two years, when you have proven yourself and getting that contract and salary raise you have been working so hard for, you realize that turning to the age of twenty five years should not be passed by silently. Besides, it is a good occasion to announce to your friends that you are going steady for a while now and that you and your partner are ready for some serious commitment. So, reasons enough to throw a huge party!

The day after the party you start wondering how you could not have seen it coming. The news was huge and you are still not sure whether you are ready for it or not. You feel happiness, but again also the pressure you have been facing ever since… you can’t even remember. But nobody blames you. After all, becoming a dad is not an easy job!

Sad but true, but today I read in the newspaper (Volskrant, 4th of July) that being in the age range of twenty five till forty five, means you are in the ‘risk’ group where the number one causes of dead is suicide. We live in a country with so many choices and opportunities and still we reach the amazing amount of 1.514 suicides a year. That is an average of four persons a day…


Whenever the weather in Holland allows it, I instantly drop the things I am working on at that moment, and slip into my inline skates. Since my skates are quite old, and I am a very fashionable aware person, I always tend to dress accordingly my skates. So my outfit exists out of old torn jeans, cheap sun glasses (probably a model from the eighties), and final but not least, an oversized shirt from H&M.

Finally when dressed properly, I take off and stroll along the promenade and try to smell the ‘freshness’ of Rotterdam. My destination is always a small lake near the city center, where people come to escape from the hectic life in the city. And honestly, it is a beautiful spot for relaxation. So, as being a true citizen of Rotterdam, I do as other people do – sit, relax and listen to what the neighbors have to say to each other.

Today is one of those tropical days we lately have in Holland, and one should not stay too long in the sun or especially leave young children too long in the sun. Already being amazed by the many buggies being dragged backwards by their moms, I continued strolling along the lake to my relaxation spot. Probably because of the heat, there were not many neighbors to listen to, but just an old lady desperately trying to get a tan.

Before I continue, you should know that we Dutch people hold our privacy in high esteem and people meddling with our business are often being chased off by the phrase “Mind your own business”.

Before I even start wondering why the lady that just passes me, does not drag her buggy backwards, the old lady next to me starts meddling and tells the mother that she should protect her children against the sun. Finally I got to realize why all other moms where dragging the buggy instead of pushing it. As expected, the mother threw the known phrase to the old lady “Mind your own business old lady”, where the mother stubborn continued pushing the buggy and the old lady minded her own business again. Ten minutes later, when I was gaining some speed to pass yet another buggy being dragged backwards, I realized the mom looked really familiar…

Blogs are hot!

Whether it be political or personal blogs (‘web log‘ for the ones that just start using the internet), it seems that nowadays everybody has something to say that, apparently, should be heard by the public. Back in the sixties one would go on the streets and express one self in what he or she believed and stood for. Or concerned a personal log, a so called dairy, was strictly personal and meant for one person only.

But not today! Political expression is done anonymously and personal dairies are done in public.

Even after having read so many blogs from friends over the past years, it never occurred to me to start one myself. Maybe it was because I never really felt that strong necessity to share my thoughts with other people, or maybe it was because I just could not find the time to start writing, or maybe it was just because I thought I would not have something to contribute something worthy enough to the blog community. Whatever it was, it is gone now and I am willing to take the chance of sharing my thoughts in public.