Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

So many countries, so many customs

Frankly, I had no clue about the English translation of a Dutch saying:‘s Lands wijs, ‘s lands eer. More and more, this saying is becoming irrelevant as people judge – and condemn – other people in other countries. Moreover, people in the 21st century even judge – and condemn – people living in the centuries before them.

In Arab and African countries, it’s still a custom to marry women who have become orphaned or widowed. The Islam religion allows for that custom, provided the husband is wealthy enough to support his various wives. In about 622 AD, the prophet Muhammad married Aisha, a young girl of 6, as “his third and youngest wife”.

In 2019, a Dutch teacher was suspended for mentioning to his pupils that today’s opinions would qualify the above as pedophile behaviour. It probably would in Western countries but not in Arab countries. This Arab and African custom is a matter of compassion. Else, these orphans and widows may not survive. Both the teacher and his suspension were highly criticized.

I wonder how African and Arab countries would view Dutch proposals for the ending of relatively healthy but “completed lives” – a.k.a. government approved and assisted suicides. I understand people who choose to stop living. In 2013, I briefly considered this too. I just do not understand why a government would want to facilitate this.

In 2016, I supported the death wish of my terminally sick girlfriend Joan. I furiously defended her decision towards people from her church. At her deathbed, they were trying to change her mind. Such people talk about compassion but fail to understand its concept. Even dying animals get more compassion than dying humans.

I also wonder how non-Western countries would view a Dutch doctor who assisted in the euthanasia of a 79 year demented woman. That woman had requested her euthanasia in writing, in case of being mentally incapacitated. The doctor was accused of legal murder. The prosecution did not request a sentence considering the medical circumstances. A typical Dutch solution.

I also wonder if this topic is another example of arrogance and ignorance. The arrogant West judges – and condemns – the (historical and/or current) deeds of other countries based upon ignorance about those countries’ customs. If they would have known those customs, Western moral superiority would probably have prevailed anyway. White Supremacy comes in many shapes and forms.

“Customs tell a man who he is, where he belongs, what he must do. Better illogical customs than none; men cannot live together without them.” A quote from the 1957 novel Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), American science-fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and retired Naval officer.

My Way (1969) by Frank Sinatra

artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

And now, the end is near 

And so I face the final curtain 

My friend, I’ll say it clear 

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain 

I’ve lived a life that’s full 

I traveled each and every highway 

And more, much more than this 

I did it my way

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

Post Scriptum: I made an error in my initial blog. The Dutch doctor was accused of murder rather than convicted. In today’s court sentence, the doctor was cleared of wrongdoing (eg, Guardian, 11 September 2019).


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