King Willem-Alexander has called on the nation to return to reason in his annual Christmas speech.
‘Christmas 2016 gives rise to conflicting emotions,’ he said. In the uncertain times which we live in ‘extreme would appear to be the new normal,’ the king said, adding that many people ‘feel that they are living in a country where no-one listens.’
The king referred to the suffering of people in Syria and other countries and the impact of terrorist attacks closer to home.
People have doubts about the future and are idealising the past, he said. But the past was not always as rosy as people think, he said. ‘Let us not shy away from naming the problems, but if there is one country which knows togetherness and solidarity, it is the Netherlands,’ he said.
500 years ago Erasmus was an example of that free, independent spirit who was not afraid to ask pointed questions, the king said. But Erasmus was always looking for reasonable argument and a peaceful exchange of ideas.
‘How can we make our society a place where everyone feels safe and at home?,’ he said. ‘Can we still solve problems together?’
He ended his speech by stating that people are right to yearn for security. Fear and anger are understandable emotions but ‘anger cannot be the end point,’ he said. We should not become bogged down in our own self-importance but together protect positive forces, he said.
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