On December 25, 2016, a Christmas message from His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands aired on Dutch television. The pre-recorded message was filmed at Villa Eikenhorst in Wassenaar.
Below is a rough translation of His Majesty’s speech:
“Heaven and earth touch each other at Christmas. Christ, the Son of God is born in a simple stable. His mother puts him to sleep in a crib. Angels proclaim a message of peace and hope for a better world.
Celebrating Christmas can be confronting and make us think. Near the spot where stood the manger, now reign of fear and violence. Unimaginable are the hardships that ordinary people – many of them small children – in Syria, but also to suffer in other countries. Violence can come close. Terrorist attacks – like this week in Berlin – this year many families in mourning.
Christmas 2016 also evokes contradictory feelings. That is why I have struggled with this Christmas Speech.
We would thus like to see the angel of peace spreads his wings over the world. We would know salvaged us so much. But while there is much that makes us worried and gives us a sense of threat and helplessness. Contradictions in the world appear to be larger. And that has an impact on our lives here. Extreme seems to be the new normal. Searching for security graves groups in their own right. That often makes an open conversation impossible. Many feel in a country without listeners to live.
Who doubts about the future, often idealizes the past. We give to all of us about to nostalgia for the past. Yes, once …
We know that the reality was less rosy. And that many issues on which we are now so worried, on closer inspection, are less serious than we sometimes think.
This is very much happy as well and that life in many ways is really better than then.
“Perception is reality,” you often hear. But the foundation of everyday life is like quicksand experience the view on reality displaces. Let us honestly name the difficult problems. But if there is one country also knows and solidarity, it is the Netherlands. Without them seek the limelight, millions of carers and volunteers our quiet strength. We see you and your loving work enough?
The message of Christmas is a message of hope, peace and charity.
This is a call to each of us. How we behave toward one another? What we do ourselves to our society in such a way that everyone knows and can feel safe at home? Can we still, solve problems together peacefully?
In these uncertain times, it is necessary to keep solid ground underfoot. The values that traditionally belong to the Netherlands, also determine in the future our ability to come together. While the world seems to give us less grip, we must stick to what we share and protect what connects us.
For so we want to live here. As free and equal people. Without those dissenting need to be afraid of threats or intimidation and without discrimination on grounds of belief, race, gender or sexual orientation. These rights apply here for everyone, always.
Freedom needs space. Room to live, to move, to think and debate without fear. Space to be different from each other. That freedom belongs to us and is stronger than any act of terrorism as well.
Earlier this year I opened the Rotterdam Library an exhibition dedicated to the famous Dutchman Desiderius Erasmus. He lived 500 years ago, not long after the invention of the printing press, the Internet of the 16th century. Erasmus was one of the first who took advantage of it. Throughout Europe reading knew his work.
Erasmus was a deeply religious man with a critical mind and a sharp pen. A man who sacred cows dared to overthrow. Nothing human was alien to him and he could tremendously excited about the abuses of his time. But he always continued to search his strength in reasonable arguments and the peaceful exchange of ideas. We need each other after all.
“Nature has divided our gifts so that one man can not do without the help of others,” he wrote.
Terrorists are trying to undermine our free way of living and to undermine our sense of home. Rightly people desire in the first place safety.
In this time of uncertainty, fear and anger understandable emotions. But anger can not be terminal. The peace we so desire does not come closer as people drop out and dig. Peace begins with protecting what we share and the use of all positive forces. Without you, without you, it’s not.
At Christmas we are urged not to give up. One another not to give up. Every person counts. Christmas light shines for all of us, and it makes us see each other.
The old Christmas carol puts it nicely.
Between all the people
in the human family
Hark, the herald angels sing the glory
of the newborn Lord.
I wish all of you – wherever you are and how your personal circumstances may be – a blessed Christmas.”