zaterdag 12 juni 2010

Casting votes

This morning P was so kind to start the one subject that I try to ignore: elections! He has already made his mind up about what party he wants in charge of this surrealistic nation. He even walks around with a smile on his face because tons of people just openly tell who they are going to pick out the list that will pop up on their computer screen. While I was brewing myself a nice cup of George Clooney coffee I settled down for the thick Saturday newspaper. I am still hoping to find in there the ultimate voting advice.

For the last few years I am one of these indecisive voters. Why? Well, because I seem not to be able to speak the same language when it comes to politics. Not that I agree with some people that voting is a useless act. But I do think that when you would be given the opportunity to perform this action instead of being forced I would feel more positively motivated to cast my vote!

And yes, more and more I feel like a stranger in my own nation. For years I have been an observer of my fellow country men and women who seem to struggle with that one feeling that we can't give a meaningful spot in our lives: patriotisme. To me it seems to be one of the few words that you can't find in a Flemish dictionary! It feels such a heavy word to use in many political conversations that we rather like to ban it out of our daily vocabulary.

But hey, I do feel proud of my nation! In the first place I do feel Belgian with a dash of Flemish cream and I am spiced up with 'Limburger' herbs! Many people wonder what we can be proud of when it comes to national pride! Well, I do agree that finding something negative it always eassier then coming up with the a five star list of Belgian objects to have some personal affection for.

That we are in a recession makes it even worse. Because more and more I do experience that economic crises takes also place between the ears. If jobs, money, economic crises, stock exchange, inflation do make the headlines then it so hard to keep up your warm feelings about the country in which you try to make in living. We do live in a time where we seem to be lost or at least searching for a short cut back on the yellow brick lane to happiness!

Not that I do give up. I do feel a very strong affection for many so typical Belgian things that others make fun of. It took me some travelling and long lay overs abroad to find out what this nation can stand for. It were others who took the time to make me see what seemed invisible to me. And yes, they even pointed out that our rather strange way of talking about politics and trying to live together can be a very valuable asset!

Yes, I do have strong affections for our so strange country with it's rather complex political systems. I can come to rest when I stare at the very extreme opposite landscape. Buying beer or chocolate are for me serious bussiness because after each label hides a personal history! Going out for meal feels like I am boarding on a tasty voyage! Spending money on a Belgian fashion label is for me investing in a timeless outfit! Getting lost in the many tiny villages when the GPS is not working is discovering a lost nation turns into a discovery of a lifetime.

This morning I pleaded for my nation!! I did it openly to P and felt scared! Yes, I don't want it to end. And out there not one single political party seems up for the hard work. Because I do believe that trying to live together and investing time and energy and yes, also money is for sure not a wasted act. That part of my money check is invested in others is not always the most fulfilling sensation I experience. That we need to split up a constituency to move on I do understand.

But this election stands for so much more that I do feel allienated by. I am working in the province of Antwerp, living in Flemish Brabant, being born in Limburg, having lived in Brussels, having friends and family living in almost every single province, living in a very international spiced street and having a boy friend who works in our capital and so my eyes and heart were opened up. I invested time, energy and money in feeling that I do now cherish and that keeps me feel content.

A few weeks ago I ended up in a hip restaurant in Paris with french speaking 'Belgians'. Before I knew I felt lost because it seemed that for once more we were the only 'Flemish'people in that company. And yes before dessert arrived they started to talk bad about 'les Flamands'.

Because my ears still function very well I picked up parts of their conversation and then I did something I never did before! I rolled my eyes in contempt and just starred at them. 'C'est dommage, que vous dites!', was my first sentence. Right there, at that moment I felt lost! One of them had picked up my words. He felt caught and he had no choice to speak up his mind and then hear me out. I had tried to point out why we consider each other 'strangers' in the first degree and what the positive traits of each side are! I was pleading for the country I do believe in but chances are few that he was talking about the same nation.

That night when I walked back in the company of P and walking towards the Arc de Triomphe I felt a bit jealous. Not of France but of all these 'Wallons' & 'Vlamingen' who seemed to have discovered that one feeling that makes them nationalists but still live in a nation that still not is up for the ultimate test. 'You know what is the hardest of our whole situation? That is that we don't belong anywhere!' P understood what I meant. More then once I get to defend many: Flemish, Walloon and the locals of Brussels. You can rest assured: I do this very fiercely but I hope that there is also a fellow country man or woman that does the same for me!

I hope that the night will bring the answer that I am after! Sweet dreams and have fun casting your votes!

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