King Willem-Alexander gave his traditional Christmas speech on Friday. He did this from the Chinese Hall in Huis ten Bosch Palace. Below you will find the full text.
So many faces. So many personal stories.
That nurse in Zwolle, just after a long shift. How she empathized with her patients. “Nobody can put a hand on your shoulder,” she said. “Only people in protective suits around you.”
That doctor in Hoensbroek, in rehabilitation after she herself was hit by the virus. Still too weak to pour a pan at home. But still intend to get back to work as soon as possible.
Those students in Breda, longing for normal student life.
And that production manager of the Shakespeare Theater from Diever who told me about that empty feeling: “Then you sit at home and you think: tonight we would have played Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“This is not the Christmas we hoped for”
King Willem Alexander
At the end of a tough year, this is not the Christmas we hoped for. We’ve all had to adjust our plans. Much that we have been looking forward to cannot continue, and that is a disappointment.
In living rooms all over the Netherlands, chairs remain empty, while we would have been more than happy to bring in extra chairs.
My heart goes out to all those people whose lives have been turned upside down. People with a dream that has broken down. Entrepreneurs who see their healthy business capsize. People who feel lonely and don’t know where to look.
Bottomless is the grief of anyone who has lost a loved one – through COVID or whatever cause – and feels that they have not been able to say goodbye properly.
‘The corona pandemic awakens the very best in us’
We humans cannot do without a loving look or an embrace. Forced distance is against our human nature. I would like to thank everyone who has tried to stick to the regulations through trial and error over the past months. And anyone who is committed in any way to help us through this crisis or cooperate in making vaccines safely available.
The corona pandemic awakened the very best in us. Sense of responsibility. Compassion. Camaraderie. Helpfulness. Solidarity. But she also confronted us with the sharp and uncomfortable sides of ourselves and society.
Moments of impatience and restlessness. Everyone will recognize it. They are understandable feelings. You finally want your trusted life back.
And then there is the uncertainty. We can’t handle that very well. Sometimes it feels like insecurity is worse than a bleak perspective. We almost automatically assume that everything in life can be controlled. But this? This is beyond our grasp.
Anyone who is uncertain can look to firm ideas, images and standpoints. After all, by choosing a firm position, you make the world clear again.
We live in a time when you seem to be expected to take a stand. Pro or con. Friend or enemy. We or them.
But what if you just don’t know? When in doubt? Or sometimes change your mind?
The king spoke from the Chinese Hall in Huis ten Bosch Palace. (Photo: Government Information Service)
King: ‘You are indispensable’
You may not feel at home at all with firm standpoints. You may find it unpleasant to have to take sides all the time, and you may be preoccupied with very different things in your heart from the issues that are so fiercely debated every day.
You may be tired of excitement, suspicion, and fanaticism. Tired of the manic mind machine. You may be quietly craving a little mutual understanding. Relaxation. Ordinary kindness. And do you think: I am apparently an outsider.
Let me reassure you: you are not. You are indispensable. Even the soft voices deserve to be heard.
Sharp debates about outspoken views or radical ideas are part of a free society. They are necessary and take us further. Those who seek guidance in those views or ideas should not be excluded.
‘A characteristic of a free society is the space for nuance’
But the hallmark of a free society is precisely that there is also room for nuance. For reasonableness and gentleness. For curiosity and research. For irony and self-perspective – always the best medicine for a pent-up mood.
And for forgiveness. An almost old-fashioned concept that plays a major role in the Bible. And that can be beneficial in this day and age.
We humans were not created to hate each other. A country in which people approach each other with a little love, is a country in which people can feel at home, even in times of great uncertainty.
The Apostle Paul put it very nicely: “Love is patient and full of goodness. It has no envy, no conceit, and no complacency. It is neither rude nor selfish, nor will it be angered, nor hold to account for evil. she does not rejoice in injustice but rejoices in the truth. “
Christmas is traditionally the festival of the returning light after the darkest period of the year. We can rely on that in all uncertainty. Have patience. The sun returns. The light returns. ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ will be played again. We will be able to meet and hug each other again.
I wish you all – wherever you are and whatever your personal circumstances may be – a blessed Christmas.