Cultural differences are no excuse for lack of civilization

Yesterday evening I had a lively discussion with two colleague from work, about the cultural differences between the Netherlands and North America. It boils down to two ideas:

  • the perceived freedom in the Netherlands is merely a superficial by-product of the blissful indifference of the average Dutch citizen towards other humans. There, do as you will, for nobody cares.
  • in North America, especially the USA, freedom is more a matter of national pride. It’s protected, and relationships between people are taken very seriously. Conflicts and inequality are routinely accepted as a necessary evil without which freedom would be put at risk.

The apparent cultural difference is arguable, but many seem to recognize the underlying concepts when traveling on both sides of the ocean.

And then, nobody cares on this side of the ocean anyway. They do as they will, we don’t care.

Of toch?

I remember one of the great achievements worldwide during the past few hundred years. I believe it’s called “human rights.” If I recall correctly, a consensus has built historically that regardless of any superficial disagreements, care should be taken to respect this common civilization framework - that “people are born equal in dignity and rights,” rights including “liberty, security, protection of the law,” etc, etc. Nothing new here, most countries agreed a while ago.

Well, it seems that some cultures have troubles grasping these simple concepts.

I learn today that black people can be lynched in the land of freedom without any form of justice. I was nauseous when I read that, but hardly surprised.

And regardless of this specific point-time event, poor people still don’t deserve to be healthy. Afterall, if they don’t earn money what are they worth?

French people like to say that they know better. That this would not happen in their country. Well, for sure, locking up black and poor people in overcrowded prisons where they eventually die forgotten is an easy workaround. Hiding the dust under the mat is just as shameful as throwing it right in the eyes of human rights.

Oh well, now I’m feeling depressed.