Pride vs Money from the Netherlands to America
Somewhere in the Netherlands this summer, pride went to battle with money, and the underdog came out on top. That ordinary people could win against the unstoppable force of wealth likely comes as a surprise to us Americans — we’re accustomed to the billionaires getting their way, corporations dictating policy, media favoring the rich.
The people of Rotterdam, Netherlands defended a monument most of us have never heard of against the boogeyman Mr. Bezos himself. The same man who employs almost 2 million Americans failed to briefly disassemble a decommissioned bridge. His new $500 million yacht will have to find some other way to sea.
Although no longer functional, the Hef is most definitely not obsolete to Dutch culture. The bridge is a symbol of achievement and endurance for Rotterdam, a landmark of pride. No sane person would try to rip apart such a facet of identity.
When we Americans see someone with money, that logic far too often flies out the roof. Not so with the Dutch — they see no reason wealth should have the right. To the Dutch citizens, their success was not extraordinary. They agreed on an issue, expressed outrage, and made change. Where Americans have to circumvent our polarized political system, the Dutch were able to go straight to the mayor’s office.
Inequality still exists, but the Dutch weigh character more heavily than wealth in their calculations of net worth. The same approach in America would benefit the vast majority, but we’ve impaled the American dream so far into our identity that money defines all but our every move.
Cultural consensus makes all the difference. The Dutch share a common attitude towards wealth, built up over generations. America, on the other hand, is so polarized that we arrive at a stalemate every time.
We don’t have to start big. Every small victory builds up momentum. The people still have real power, but we’ve got to learn how to use it all over again.