Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Bishop that likes little children and Frau mit Schnurrbart

Today was the day that St. Nicholas, a.k.a. Sinterklaas, f.k.a. The Bishop of Mira, arrived on the Amsterdam Dam square. Sinterklaas is well known as the children's biggest friend. Now many Bishops nowadays are well known to be very friendly to little boys but this Bishop has another wonderful feature: He exploits black servants who crawl down your chimney to enter your house. Anyway, I won't go that way today. I too lie to my son about his existence and hope he'll forgive me when he's old enough to know it was all about mall marketing to sel us useless stuff.

We arrived in time, I bought myself a Hazelnut Latte and my son a hot chocolate. He managed to get in front at the fence and stood first in row. I tried to get as much children in front of me but couldn't avoid to let an entire Mediterranian looking family in front of me while I wasn't paying attention. No problem, "let them integrate into our culture" I thought, they might enjoy this charade.

This family (their children in particular) was very annoying. They yelled to everyone and started bullying my son. He got pushed and tried to find eye-contact with me. From a distance I told him to stay put and that he would be allright. Now he is only six but rather tall for his age so he started pushing back telling his 10 y.o. neighbour that he should loose weight because he didn't fit in between. I didn't like it but so far no reason to get upset. Hey, " that's just what children do", I thought. That's when this ugly woman started intimidating my son. Pulling his jacket and telling him to get lost. "Lady, leave him alone and mind your own business", I yelled at the woman twice. She didn't comply.

She continued pushing and pulling his jacket. My son got upset and started crying. And I got furious, man did I loose it for a moment. I elbowed myself to the front and told her that I warned her twice and that if she would ever lay a hand on my son again "I will kick your husbands ugly ass because I don't hit women, not even women with a moustache like yours". Then I turned towards her husband and told him to "tell her I am blood serious" looking him straight into the eyes with the most vicious look I had in years. Problem solved..

Now I do not approve of my behaviour and it sure isn't the Buddhist way I would normally prefer but this is just a little example of the problems we face daily in our Dutch big cities. We have been tolerating too much and now we've all grown apart. Young Morrocan pupils terrorize teachers and even terrorize entire neighbourhoods. People no longer dare to stand up against their violence and their parents have lost them in between cultural differences.

The CEO of Blackberry told me last week that the little Canadian town where he grew up welcomed a dozen Dutch families after WWII. They immigrated to Canada to start anew. Every year, with Dutch liberation day in sight, they would plant a couple of hundred tulips on the town square to remember the victims of war, to celebrate the liberation of the Netherlands and to thank their Canadian neighbours for their warmth and hospitality. They were grateful, very grateful. That's how they are seen by their Canadian neighbours, the grateful Dutch neighbours. Last year, many Canadian towns celebrated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands in a way that we in the Netherlands even didn't do.

And that's just the way it works to my opinion. You earn your respect in a new country through gratefullness, not through agression, repression and violence.

I rest my case..


Vee said...

Wow. Ok, first..interesting titbit on how you guys celebrate St.Nick earlier and the description of his helpers etc. when compared to the North American version.

Second, I cannot believe that lady got involved in something between kids. And I must say Dimi, I was a little shocked over your words, but I understand the heat of the moment etc.etc. I don't know the situation in Amsterdam re: the immigrants etc. but it only makes me more proud of Canada.

Take care!

Anonymous said...

I commend your reaction Dimitri, I would have done the same ... sometimes enough is enough and I don't have patience for parasitic pestilized behavior anymore.
Coming to a new country is like beginning a new relationship between two people. Respect, listening, assimilation, exchange. If that chain does not work the only other alternative is divorce!

Lesley said...

I don't blame you for your reaction. Is it possible these are just rude people and has nothing to do with where they come from? There are not a lot of Mediterranian people here where I live, but the ones I have met seem very polite and nice. Perhaps those people would be rude no matter where they live because that is just how they are. They are the kind of people who don't know how to be grateful or polite. There are plenty people of all races that I have met that fit that description.

Worried said...

There are some people of every race who are rude and aggressive and who regard courtesy and turning the other cheek as weakness. To those, a determined aggressive defense is sometimes necessary to let them know we will not be bullied and intimidated, and especially when our children are being abused. THAT is intolerable!! And especially when an adult does it.

Unfortunately, there are many immigrants who come to a new nation in order to exploit the resources and benefits there and have no gratitude nor loyalty to their new homeland. We see much of that here in the US, with some even demanding that we of European ancestry be deported and allow them to take over the country. I don't know what they propose to do with those of us and of their group who are of mixed Native American and Euro ancestry---cut us in half, send one part back to Europe and let the other half stay?? What a coil!!

I understand about losing your Buddhist cool, DA. I am a non-violent person but the only fight I ever got into in my adult life was when a neighbor woman knocked my petite 14 yr.old daughter down with a blow to the head with a stick and then punched my 15 yr. old daughter in the stomach. This peaceful dove Mama morphed into a raging saber toothed tigress and a terrific hair pulling, scratching, punching battle was on. Little kids boiled out of the woodwork to enjoy the spectacle and other neighbors called the police. Two squad cars with riot dogs came, so I don't know what was reported. I was never so embarrassed in my life and further humilated because the officers could not restrain their snickers and grins.I was not amused. However, that woman never again bothered the children playing stickball in our dead-end street.
I cannot understand why two men fighting is frightening, but two women having a hair pulling is amusing.

Blogger formerly known as JBlue said...

OMG, DA, I admire your restraint! If someone dared to TOUCH one of my kids, I think my head would explode. I would probably beat the crap out of the entire family on the spot.... In fact, can you get their address for me? I can't bear to have a 6 y.o. child bullied like that. I'll be right over....

Geez. Maybe it is a cultural difference: maybe in their culture it is acceptable to reprimand other people's children. However, it could be just THESE people have no sense, as Lesley noted. In our culture, that's not accepted either. One thing peops should know before coming here: don't touch other people's children. You may draw back a nub.

Blogger formerly known as JBlue said...

Wow, don't mess with our dear WA, eh?

Gary said...

DA - it's understandable that you became angry to protect your son. That's the beauty of evolution and eons of protective instinct. You stood up and solved the problem...and it didn't end in violence.

As for immigrants, I hope you don't end up generalizing your experience (I know you won't). Each individual is different and needs to be seen as the soul they are. Every culture has some ugly sides to it (ask the Aboriginal Canadians how much respect their 'immigrants' gave them).

Kathleen Callon said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. If an adult was bullying one of my sons, I'd probably have done something similar. We just moved to a city in the northwestern US, and my oldest son (he's 11 but is very tall and looks 16) has been knocked around and had racial slurs yelled at him due to his being white.

If that woman had done that to my 6 year old and I had to go and rescue him, I probably would have done worse than you, and I'm a soft spoken and generally sweet person. You did the best you could at the time, and your son knows he can trust you to defend him. Hope you both are well.

pissed off patricia said...

Perhaps this just goes to prove that there are assholes everywhere. In every country and in every race and in every religion a few assholes must reside.

Not being a parent I can't say how I would have felt. Knowing my mouth when I get angry, I sure as hell know what I would have said.

Ingrid said...

LOL!! Ah the memories came flooding back. I remember one Sinterklaas arrival in my little hometown of Hoogeveen (drents as wee'k nie wat..hehe, ik niet hoor) anyhoo... I still believed in Sinterklaas and I heard a boy scream (as the zwarte pieten were going around throwing out pepernoten which is a kind of cookie sweet) "Sinterklaas bestaat niet!" (Sinterklaas doesn't exist!) For sure I thought he'd go straight into 'black pete's' bag back to Spain lol!
As for the Canadians. The Dutch still have a great reputation I think and the WW2 connection is still there. When I lived in Ottawa CA, there would be the tulip festival every year in honour of the Dutch princess that was born there during the war but the Canadians 'recognized' her room in the hospital as 'Dutch' so she was still Dutch and not Canadian. (weird really)
As for that moustached woman, yep, not every foreigner in every country is respectful of its customs and traditions. Of course I hear the little devil on my shoulder saying ' ahem' what about this bellowaching about the pledge of allegiance'?? To which I say, well you reminds me too much of the hitler jugend! (eek)
I rest my case too,

Cynnie said...

Oh, Buddhist..I love the concept..

I'm usually very very laid back and easy going ....
And when kids are having problems..i watch ..and only intervene when it looks like it might get nasty..and especially if they're mismatched.

But you let an adult start messing with my well behaved child...(I grew up with neighbors reprimanding all the kids in our i really do believe in the village theory)

I will go insane.

I am NOT that nice a person that anyone can test me on this .

Fuck with me ..I'll turn the other cheek..maybe
Fuck with my innocent child..
I will break both your legs

( excuse my language..but, eh well..Sometimes a subject needs a few fucks thrown in)

Nerdine said...

I can't believe a grown woman actually went so far as to make a 6 year old cry!!
Sure there would probably have been other and more "Buddhist" ways of reacting, but I bet none of them (I'm sorry to say) would have been as effective..
I have missed reading your blog in my absence and am happy to announce my return... :)

Anonymous said...

I would have done the same, but I think I would have been there sooner giving her the evil eye. An ounce of prevention is better than a punch in the head.

My friend immigrated here (Canada) from Egypt. She works as a social worker. She's embarrassed at how often her family and Egyptian friends will ask her for "advice" on how to fleece the Canadian "system". She says they complain all the time about Canada and Canadians, but they'd never consider moving back to Egypt. She's in Toronto, though, and we all know Toronto's a hotbed of weirdness... ;-)

Out here, in the more rural West, I've never met an immigrant who wasn't delighted to be here and leaping into his/her community with both feet.

I think the problem is overgrown urbanity. Big cities aren't healthy, and they crimp people's souls and turn them green and moldy around the edges.

Badoozie said...

not to be disprespectul, but i found a little humor in your handling of the situation..but really seriously you can only be so peaceful when someone is threatening or otherwise messing with the fruit of your loins!

Anonymous said...

I understand outside of Morroco the Netherlands has the largest number of Moroccans in the world, so I guess there any number of bad behaviors within their midst that will occur like any other ethnic group or locals.

I enjoy the company of my good Dutch friends and those of other ethnic backgrounds, but I don’t expect them to be overly grateful for their Australian citizenship, indeed the richest in culture that different groups bring to another’s country I think is a blessing.

However for a variety of reasons multiculturalism does not always work so well but I don’t agree with the idea of conformity to some subjective standards of nationalism (values), apart from the laws of that land.

For the most part living in Melbourne, one of the most multicultural cities in the world seems to work reasonably well, but it’s a complex issue.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Well I don't quite agree with Lindsay this time.
Laws are just a skeleton to provide support for a juicy and meaty living structure.
Laws don't order life, laws only direct order for life before death.
In other words, immigrants should assimilate most of all the living structure of a given country, laws are secondary and a crutch (skeleton).
See, you wouldn't blame the ocean for the inadequacy and stupidity of the lizard to swim across to an island, neither would you blame the desert for a tuna fish attempting to find an oasis.
Assimilation is not a "law" thing - it is having respect towards your chosen environment, and choosing to adopt or else get lost.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zee & DA
I take it you assume assimilation to be the superior model for immigration. That is the assimilation of racial and ethnic groups into mainstream society; so that minorities change in conformity to the dominant culture, a "melting pot," for immigrants of varied racial and ethnic backgrounds to willingly and happily blend in the creation of a brand-new national identity.
Assimilation however often stifles any differences in beliefs other than those of the dominant culture. Interestingly it is Indigenous groups who may be forced to abandon lifestyle based upon values unacceptable to the dominant culture, usually European.
What I am suggesting as an alternative to that melting pot model,is for a more pluralistic or multicultural society model where groups can maintain their ethnic identity and language, art, music, food, literature, religion, to enrich society while over time what emerges is changes to both cultures. That does not mean theses groups do not engage fully in their new environment.

Multiculturalism is also an issue in the workplace. I work for an employer who has operations in 39 different countries. Such an employer, and most to day view diversity as very good business. Time and investment in traning are set aside to cultivate diversity, leading to a more tolerant and innovative work environment.
So the debate over assimilation versus multiculturalism is far from settled or indeed clear.
What I was seeking to advance the cause of multicturalsm in a pluralistic society.

The USA has adopted the assimilation model; with some success whilst others including Australia are attempting Multiculturalism.

There are many arguments for and against but I personally favour Multiculturalism.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Maybe I have sometimes a rather round and about way of bringing my point across. Sorry.
So here is the lean version:
Immigrants are welcome to bring their own ways and culture as long as they also respect the ways and culture of the land they are immigrating to.
It's that simple really.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zee
yes I see/ agree
and here's one resolution- to end on !!

Trouble has occurred as a new governor was forbidding the custom of Sati.
You are not respecting our culture the locals complained !!

The governor responded.

I will respect your culture, so long as you equally respect ours!!, Can we both agree !

Go ahead and continue your practice of Sati, but our culture requires us to cut of the heads of those found guilty of murdering innocent women.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

Hi DA,
I would agree with Gary that your reaction was only natural to the aggressive behaviour of that woman that comes from the evolution nevertheless there is more evolved way of the Christ, Budhha and Gandhi to offer the other chick for a slap if hit on one cheek.
Anyway I agree with your conclusion that one must earn respect!

Arti Honrao said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Arti Honrao said...

Sorry there to delete that post! I was perhaps getting the wrong msg across.
What I mean to say is that ...
As far as possible we need to handle the situation as calmly as we can but then sometimes we have to show our ugly side! Just as you did.

It was not you as an individual but the father in you that reacted!