Statement # 1
Why Counter Balance?
According to its articles of
incorporation, Counter Balance is a
registered foundation with the objective of joining in discussion in society about human
We live in a 'free and democratic society', but inevitably people and interests may conflict with one another. By nature, humans are dynamic beings. Every person wants to freely seek her or his. We want to be different from other people.
We have chosen our rulers, but the latter have problems with human diversity and freedom. Rulers like rules to achieve harmony and integration. 'Please, all noses in the same direction', as we say in Dutch. Or, to use an English expression: 'All the wood behind one arrow'.
Does this resolve the problem? Or does it create one? Are there other solutions?
Statement # 1 in full
Confusion seems to rule our society. As individuals, we have a lot of freedom, but relationships between individual humans seem to have become a minefield. Conflicts between people get a lot of attention in the media. Society seems to be a field full of conflicts and the trend is to worry about it. One judges by labeling many relationships as unhealthy.
In confusion and worry, one tends to ask for more rules, for more law and order. Rules should bring clarity, certainty and safety, but in fact they primarily act to limit our freedom. In some cases, this is justified, in others it is not.
In confusion and worry, one tends to seek out 'experts'. By so doing, we tend to forget that we ourselves have the experiences, feelings and ability to judge.
One of the worries of our modern society, at least in The Netherlands, is the relationship between the voting citizens and the chosen rulers. This relationship is said to be bad. So, political parties and governors seek to reach the citizens. But simultaneously, they try to re-educate the citizens by information, but even more by laws and freedom limiting rules presented as 'liberal' or 'neo-liberal', but not liberating at all. Is this really in the interests of the citizens? This is disputable. It might be a point of attention for Counter Balance.
The freedom won by citizens over the course of time represents a problem for the rulers. They primarily see danger, perils and risks in our freedom. All governments try in many ways to gradually limit that freedom. Governors sometimes see their chance in special moments, usually after a problem has arisen and there is a consensus that a solution is needed - that is: for new rules.
In first instance, people accept this, saying, "Yes, this is necessary. Remember that awful recent case?" Shortly thereafter, the case was found to be not as severe as had been first alleged, but the rules are maintained.
Are these limits and rules really justified? Are they in our interests? Do they really have a positive effect in the long term? How do they influence the relationships between people? Do they really resolve any problem - or are the new rulings the next problem? Matters to discuss, maybe points of attention for Counter Balance.
For example, let's have a look at the schools. Teachers have to submit to a lot of rules, and their principals to even more rules. Teachers are judged by their following the rules - not by their feeling or intuition or the quality of their contact with the students. A good contact with students may even be used against a teacher. Teachers who are really involved with the children and who might invite them home are quickly distrusted: which kind of relationship is going on here?
We see the same in health care and youth care. What was recently quite normal, is now suspect and forbidden. Even parents and even more unmarried men cannot escape this trend. This might be one of the topics to discuss at Counter Balance.
Some groups in society call for protection of people, usually not for the people of their own group, but for others. The protected group, mostly the silent majority, has not asked this protection, but nevertheless silently accepts it.
For instance, parents are scarcely allowed to bring up their own children in their own ways. They seem to need experts' help, or at least a kind of education on how to raise their children. But those experts and that education introduce a pattern of norms and values different from those of the parents. To 'help' the parents, rulers and experts introduce rules about what a child is allowed to see on the television, at the movies, or on a computer screen.
Sure, it is too heavy for the fragile mind of a thirteen-year old to see any nakedness on a screen. The same thirteen-year old enters his bedroom and turns on her or his own TV to see a lot of porn and advertisements for sex chat lines. What a shock for the naive and innocent child who grew up in a Disney-like world! This child did not know violence exists violence in the world, nor did it know about the existence of sexual lust.
A child explores the world in its own tempo. It looks, like UNESCO said, through a window to the world. As the child grows older, the window will be larger. But governments and societal norms regularly board up certain windows in order that the child would not see some things. A healthy child will become curious to know what may be behind those windows. Forbidden fruit tastes the best.
If the child is not able to have a look behind those boarded up windows - a lot of windows over the course of years - it may be shocked by suddenly seeing what lies beyond them. Exactly the shock that one wanted to prevent.
The way we raise our children and the relationships we have with them are important for their future. For Counter Balance, there is a lot to discuss on this topic.
It is a common practice to protect groups seen as vulnerable: for example, Christians, Muslims, Jews, women and homosexuals. One wants to prevent such groups from statements that might hurt them. Thus, say nothing about the Pope, Mohammed, the Holocaust, do not shock women or homosexuals with offensive words. People from these groups easily go to court when offended. So, it is difficult to draw up politically correct advertisements on billboards, unless you employ boring texts and images.
Integration and harmonization - all noses in one direction, please or all the wood behind one arrow - is the politically correct trend. But this negates the differences, the idiosyncrasies, the typical features which make human contacts fascinating. By nature, a human is not a harmonious and consistent being, but a dynamic one, who wants to build her or his own identity. We want to be different from others. Controversy and disharmony belong to human life. They make life interesting and exiting. Controversy is not violence. Moreover, the roots of violence can be found in all those rules and demands our society places upon the individual. Those who cannot obey them feel frustrated and may become irrational in their behavior. Counter Balance wants to discuss these topics thoroughly.
Relationships are very important to the development of our young fellow humans. However, real and good contact with them appears to be more and more difficult. Nevertheless, children will search out such relationships. So now we see children locked up with their own peer group - often a hard world with the rough boys or girls at the top and the more sensitive ones on the bottom. Meaningful contact with people outside the own peer group has become rare.
Counter balance against these trends might come from independent, critical thinking about what is seen as normal. It's good to base one's ideas on one's own experience. It is good to decide self in one's own matters - and together in the collective ones. It is good to do and to learn this already in early childhood.
Counter Balance wants to offer a forum for these ideas. We don't want to re-invent the wheel: we look for good ideas, articles and documents on the Web and in the newspapers and magazines and in so doing we create a kind of library of ideas. We write statements and essays and maintain a small library for each of them.
Not all statements are translated. Also, not all of the articles in these libraries (the "Read More" sections), could be translated into English.