I’m going to save the discussion about the terrible war crime that the Israeli military committed today by bombing the UN observer post. Someone in charge has clearly lost their mind and must be arrested and face charges in the international criminal court. But again, thats for a future post, so save the comments on that issue.
Today’s issue starts with a story. A few hours ago, as I cruised in from a leisurely boat ride around the Jordaan and Prinseneiland, I noticed a boat-owner-neighbor parked a few spots up from me, standing in his boat waving to me. “Nice Lamp” he shouted in Dutch, referring to my pink colored lantern that gets alot of comments somehow. I thanked him and began to tie my ropes and chain to the usual places on land. The man’s smile changed when he saw this, and he gave out a warning “make sure you lock everything up and chain it properly, this guy who usually parks between us had his boat stolen last night”. Stolen? I stared at him in disbelief. Thoughts of what a nice neighborhood we live in, and why would anyone want to steal that boat which I remember being fairly unremarkable. Are you sure – I asked. A boat stolen, here? He started laughing and went on to talk about how easy it is and how our neighborhood is not immune to theft of anykind.
Which reminded me of larger issues at play in this beloved city. Amsterdam has tons of beautiful things. Whether you cruise down on bike or on boat, you’ll be able to see people sitting in their luxurious houses, or cruising by in their fancy boats. In terms of haves and have nots, this city’s haves like to flaunt what they’ve got.
Of course, this is what you see on the surface. If you go out to the far off neighborhoods.. things are somewhat different. People don’t have as much to flaunt, and thanks to a number of different issues and circumstances, many decide that stealing from the haves is a good way to acquire some quick cash if not thrills.
While I don’t like the idea of my stuff being stolen, especially my boat which spends many hours out there on the water, alone… after observing Dutch society over the years, I’m not so surprised. Matter of fact, it seems inevitable. With all the in-your-face luxury of this city, that a relatively small yet very visible population exhibit. Combined with lots of disaffected youth, with limited prospects for fullfilling or even just earning a higher standard of living then the one they’re born into. That my boat or my neighbors boat, regardless of weather he and I are fairly financially well of or not, might be targeted…. not that much of a surprise.
People talk alot of Europe’s safety nets. Some of it warranted. Much of it has been picked apart and made more difficult to attain. Quality of life remains high, and poverty is of course not as prevelant as it is in most other countries… but still… one thing is certain… if the political and social winds keep blowing the way they’re blowing.. the Red August is gonna need thicker chains and a bigger lock.
Leaving for Portugal in the morning.. see you on the other side!