Dutch king calls for community – we need the ‘greater we’ not the ‘big I’

Dutch king Willem-Alexander has called on people to work towards a sense of community in his traditional Christmas address to the nation.

People, the king said, should ‘not be looking for a bigger I, but for the greater we.’

Speaking at his home on the De Eikenhorst estate, the king said it is becoming more difficult to meet people in daily life. ‘The places where people used to come together – the church, the office, the café, the sports club, the school – are loosing their role as places which bind us.’

‘Perhaps the hospital is the only place where you come into contact with people with a different background and way of living,’ the king said.

In his speech, the king also referred to the fake news phenomenon. ‘Communication via internet gives us fantastic opportunities but that does not mean an open window on the world,’ he said.

‘It is often difficult to separate fact from fiction. Nuance and empathy are getting the worst of it, and Twitter sometimes makes the debate bitter. More and more people are keeping their digital door closed and are only open to ideas which which confirm their feelings and opinions.’

Commentators said the king’s speech was a little somber this year, particularly his references to the ebbing away of the community spirit. However, NOS royalty reporter Kysia Hekster said the king finished on a positive note.

‘He said that looking outside your own world is a benefit. Be curious and then perhaps we can better the world,’ Hekster said. ‘His key message this Christmas – about looking to the community spirit rather than to yourself – is a classic call which is completely logical at Christmas,’ Hekster said.

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