Christmas cards. Every year, it’s a big job to write and send them. In an age in which we can speak to anyone anywhere via internet, is there any point in sending a paper card?
Leaving aside all the long-term unknowns, the current corona prospects in the Netherlands are good. Schools and restaurants are open again, people are being allowed to return to work after more than a year in improvised home offices, and practical plans to enable holidays abroad are well underway. Some people are chafing at the leash […]
Unlike the Ten Commandments, rules are not set in stone. They are often open to interpretation, fail to cover the current situation, or even come into conflict with common sense or our conscience. Yet when we decide for ourselves, we are led by our own bias and the temptation to put our needs and desires above what we know to be right. When should we follow rules, and when should we use our own judgement?
We want to believe in perfect solutions. We want better hospitals without paying taxes to fund them, safety from crime and terrorism without our civil liberties being impinged on, new technological gadgets without factory pollution. In reality, life is a constant trade-off. This is enshrined in various scientific laws, but also in simple folk wisdom: ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’.
Being a parent is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. At the same time, it is the thing I most desperately want to get right. Many parents probably recognize this. You give birth to this tiny little being, so perfect that it takes your breath away. You want to love and protect them, to keep them safe, in the untouched state in which they came from the womb.
As teenagers, my best friend and I spent many hours discussing our ideas of the perfect boyfriend. Piercing blue eyes or gorgeous deep brown ones, a warm smile, a good sense of humour, intelligent, considerate… it was a long list. At the same time as I dreamed of meeting this paragon of perfection, I held out no real hope of ever finding any boyfriend. They would undoubtedly have their own list of ideal traits in a girlfriend, and I was acutely aware of how few boxes I would tick.
Back in March last year, when this all started, I didn’t hope that it would be over soon. I expected it to be over soon. As time went on and the seriousness of the situation became apparent, my expectations subsided into hope – or rather, a string of hopes. The hope that the schools would soon reopen. The hope that we could celebrate my father’s 70th birthday together. The hope that a vaccine would be developed. The hope that the developed vaccines would quickly improve our situation. The hope – once the schools had reopened – that they would never close again. Save one, all of these hopes were dashed. And now, I am finding it very hard to frame any sort of hope.