Tag Archives: Everyday life

Carla Drift – Behaviour 2


People accept differences in behaviour and in dealing with each other to a certain extent. This acceptance is determined by mutual relationships within a worldview that gives an interpretation to the similarity and differences between people. This worldview also gives an interpretations to the similarities and differences between groups of people. Priests and leaders have a different place in society and they have other habits than labourers. Within a stable society with an uniform worldview, every individual and every group of people experience its place as necessary and appropriate within a higher order. The differences often have an interpretation and a higher purpose in a world order seen as predestined; every woman/man experiences her/his place and her/his life changes as perfectly normal – how extravagant and absurd the situation may seem in the eyes of outsiders.

In Africa men rest in the shade all day – in the Western world people work almost the whole day to sit half an hour in the sun. In Europe a walk to the next village takes a small hour – in Africa a similar walk of the same distance takes over half a day because all social contacts along the road are maintained.

[1]

In the Western – modern industrialized – world many couples life together in a small family consisting of two partners and a few children. The children continue to live in the family house until they are old enough to live independently.

According to the Western ideal, marriage comes forth from a romantic love affair that continues after a few years in a marriage in which – after one year – successively two to four children are born. When the children themselves get married by a romantic love affair, the two partners end up living happy and satisfied together until old age. This small family is pretty mobile to move along with the possibilities that the labour-market can offer.

[2]

The reality is often different than the ideal. First young people explore the world of entering into love relationships; they have a number of loose/fixed relations. After this orientation a partner choice follows for a long-term love affair. This romantic quest costs besides happiness, hope and expectations also disappointments, sadness and headaches; much literature and movies on this topic represent a summary of the difficulties. The starting love gets – with some luck and perseverance – shape in the vow of a long-term living together. After a number of seasons the partners decide to continue the long-term relationship in a marriage or cohabitation agreement. In reality approximately 36% of the marriages end in a divorce [3]. Everyday life does not live up to the common ideal. Within the small family, the relocation of labour to another part of the country is a sensitive event: who of both partners must revise her/his ambition in the labour market. A wedding or cohabitation agreement has also the characteristics of a business agreement in addition to a love relation.

More than half a century ago many people in the Western – agricultural – world lived together in an extended  family [4] where children, parents with their brothers and sisters, and grandparents lived  lifelong under one roof. A number of people died in the same bed in which they were born.

[5]

In this extended family, honour, the reputation of the family and the survival of the house/farm was of great importance for the establishment of good life-long relationships. When the family honour was damaged, it was impossible for potential suitors from the extended family to find adequate life partners. A marriage arrangement was – next to a societal agreement – mainly a business agreement for the extended family. New members joined the extended family with an advance on their legacy and other members left the house with wedding gifts to live in another family. Marriages were often arranged – children were married off.

In some agricultural areas nubile daughters were given the possibility to get pregnant in an outbuilding of the farm. After the pregnancy was visible, the marriage followed immediately. This farming community did not wish to risk the survival of the farm by marriages without offspring. The Christian faith could never eliminate this ancient way of matrimonial agreements with an enlarged guarantee on progenies.

The local community society closely monitored the reputation of the extended families: everything was done to restrain the “biology between people”. Young marriageable women were constantly chaperoned by the close family. In the Catholic South Limburg around 1950, pensions and hotel rooms were checked at the beginning of the night by local police on unwanted extramarital activities. In November 1961 – in the Protestant village Staphorst – a man and a woman were driven by the local inhabitants on a manure cart through the village to their shame for an extramarital relationship [6].

At the end of the sixties an underneath sense of uneasiness in society – partly caused by an increased prosperity and by the availability of contraceptives – gave rise to freer relationships between men and women. Young people were young and alternative and they wanted to explore life and their sexuality more openly. The second-wave feminism also changed the relations between men and women. Young people had more freedom to engage in sexual relationships and there were different ways of cohabitation available. The new possibilities also cause more uncertainties – the society became adrift [7].

In our society most married couples remain monogamous during their marriage. Many other ways of cohabitation also show a large degree of monogamy. Though the number of illegitimate children rapidly increase in Netherlands: between 1985 and 1995, the percentage of children born out of wedlock has risen from over 8% to 16%. Afterwards, the percentage increased from 25% in 2000, 35% in 2005 to 45% in 2009. The reason for this is probably the decline in Christian morality and the increased prosperity with greater autonomy of women [8]. It seems that the sequential monogamy – partners are monogamous within a relationship, but the relationships change over time – increases in our society.

In addition to monogamy, other societies also know polygamy [9] – more women with one man – and polyandry [10] – more men with one woman – or mixtures of both forms. In sparsely populated areas or in societies where a deficit has arisen to one gender, these other forms are necessary for the survival of the population. In the Arab world many warfare with a high mortality of the male population took place; in order to maintain the population, more women married with one husband – in case the husband could maintain these women. In the Caribbean and around Miami men of a particular class are imprisoned for a very long time; women proceed to “passers marriages” with available men – the woman has a relationship with a man as long as this man can care for the woman. In thinly populated areas more men have a lasting relationship with one woman so that better support in education of her children is ensured.

In areas in Africa and in some regions of the Himalayas polyandry takes place. An example is written in the Mahābhārata where on female protagonist – Draupadi – is married to five brothers – five other main characters – after the mother of the five brothers has said that her sons must share what one of the brothers has obtained. The brothers lived successively one year with their wife from which five sons came forth [11].

[12]

Another example of polygamy and polyandry is found at the Maasai in Kenya. Women and men live together in a mixture of polygamy and polyandry. A woman sometimes marries with an age group of men. A man is expected to give up his marriage bed to a guest/age mate – only the woman decides whether she wants to share the bed with the guest. All children of the woman are also the children of the spouse [13].

Bigamy, polygamy, polyandry and marriages between equal sexes are prohibited in many countries. Often there is a traditional taboo on uncommon forms of cohabitation. Many societies do everything – including banishment, hell and damnation – to eradicate unfamiliar cohabitation. Are other forms of cohabitation seen as inferior and unethical in order to suppress one’s own uncertainty and covert wishes for change? Or is it easy to regard other forms of cohabitation as an inferior cohabitation and as a consequence as deficit and unethical [14]? At tension and conflicts, there is the desire to demonstrate this inferiority and deficit of the others. Or, as Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen said in his lectures at the Technical University in Delft: “Evidence is compelling that others have to bend their knees “. This compelling may proceed in a stigma and the search for scapegoats within our neighbours. The tension may spiral in an armed conflict with massacres. Isn’t  accepting other ways of cohabitation – and the acceptance of the uncertainty and tensions about our own way of cohabitation – a better solution?

[1] Source image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mt_Uluguru_and_Sisal_plantations.jpg

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old_marriage_at_Plac_Kaszubski.jpg

[3]  The Catholic Church recognises three grounds for divorce: death of one of the partners, “non- consummation the marriage” and a prolonged absence of one partner without a forecast on a return. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce

[4] Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_family

[5]  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FamiliaOjeda.JPG

[6] Source: Nieuwblad van het Noorden, 13 november 1961 – pagina 1.

[7] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One Life, A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 44 – 47.

[8] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buitenechtelijk_kind

[9] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamie

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyandry

[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata

[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2716_PandavaDraupadifk.jpg.jpg

[13] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people

[14] See also: Agar, Michael, Language Shock – Understanding the Culture of Conversation. New York: Perennial, 1994, 2002, p. 23, 37

Man Leben – Everyday life


Wie soll man leben – How to live

Now you continue with your contribution to society and your everyday life in Amsterdam:

“I have completed my general education at a Catholic primary school in South Limburg and a Christian grammar school in Rotterdam. In my grammar school time my aunt promoted the regular study of the Jewish scriptures. At that time these were complete different worlds. Looking back, I mainly see the similarities.

Open-minded I started my study Architecture in Delft without formal obligations. On my 21st birthday the disillusionment followed. My aunt explained to me how she had handled the legacy of my parents and family. She had done well, but the time was not well-disposed to her. Hereinafter I finished my studies in four years with a reasonable to good study in the field of utility-building.

Everyday life took me on. A short period I worked at an architectural firm on utility projects. Through this firm, I ended up in the trade of building materials. In the early sixties more money came in society and there was also more money available for building materials. I lifted on this tide.

[1]

Through my work on the architectural firm I met my wife and mother of our three children. In grammar school and the first two years of my study, I have been in love several times, but there was always a distance. Now I saw her and she appeared in a white glow; not as bad as when in primary school I fell in love for the first time. Then lightning struck me and everything was completely white, now it was gentler and only she stood in a white glow. Fortunately I could utter a few meaningful words. The second time I had the courage to ask her out. So it went on. We are quickly engaged and we married in 1959. A short time we have lived in an apartment and when the children came, we moved to a house near Amsterdam.

The trade in building materials was very successful. For me my “Jaguar year” started.

[2]

I will keep the description of these “Jaguar years” brief, because Lucy Irvine [3] in her book on the stay on a deserted island in the Pacific could not stand it when her companion “G” began about his “Jaguar days”. Our success increased and we moved to a detached house on the outskirts of Amsterdam; we went with vacations further and further. The children went to primary school and everything seemed quiet and fine.

With the increased wealth at the end of the 1960s, there was a underneath sense of uneasiness in society that also got a place in our family. Structures and ways of living changed, values and ways of behaviour changed and we felt a great increase of freedom [4]  and possibilities. The imagination seemed to come to power. The routine of a fixed family with fixed ways of living together changed in a free family with free manners. Our marriage changed in an open marriage with room for other relationships. The Jaguar was exchanged for a Renault 4 as family car – a delicious moving car, which flowed like everything else in that time –, because we felt we were still young and alternative; we enjoyed life.

[5]

The trade prospered and required another car – a Saab 99. Looking back the joy of this freedom and entering into other relationships was fleeting and shallow; the latent discontent remained.

[6]

The second-wave feminism rolled into our family. After our wedding my wife stopped working, she took care of everything in and around our house, and for the children; I took care of the income, for all official business and for the management of our possessions. We made plans for the future and considered together important decisions. Everything was nicely divided as usual in that area. We started with a normal marriage like everyone else in that time. The hippie time made everything loose and more jolly; clothing was alternative and the relationships as well. In the early 1970s my wife wished to develop and orient herself on her place in society.

My wife started to develop herself; she began a study languages at the University of Amsterdam. Her social life changed – her new friend came in our life and not much later they moved on with the children: she was my ex-wife and a visit arrangement with the children followed. My social life changed: there were several female friends in my life and my circle of friends changed because our separation also resulted in a separation in the family and friends – “partir est mourir un peux”. My inner discomfort and dissatisfaction remained.

With these changes also the view on other religions came in my life: Catholicism, Christian and Jewish faith had already found a place in my life – the last 25 years more or less dormant. With the alternative movement also Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism came into view. Later these religions played an important role in my life.

At the end of the 70 ‘s I was – additional to my work in the trade – a few years part time teacher for modular construction elements at the Delft University of Technology. I had transferred part of my job to younger colleagues. In that time I followed the lectures in philosophy by professor W. Luijpen. His view on society had a major influence on me.

In 1980 my aunt died after a short period of illness. I have organized her funeral and the additional matters. At that time she was again my closest member in the family. I visited her grave annually in the Catholic fashion around 1 November. I still could not fulfil her wish to honour her with traditional remembrance of the dead [7] according to the Jewish tradition. I still was not ready for it.

In the spring of 1982 my godfather in South Limburg suddenly died. My life was ready for a change. I decided to help my godmother on the farm: I moved to South Limburg and I was temporarily farmer. Before I left, I handled my business in Amsterdam, sold our house and for the children I have – like my grandparents had done for my parents in 1923 – a small capital base in deposit. My family has not appreciated this change. When I look back, I shouldn’t have taken these steps so bold, but in that period of my life I felt that this change was on my way”, you say.

“I remember that confusing time. In Limburg these changes happened later, but at the end of my grammar school time everyone had long hair and colourful clothes. During my study in Delft I felt resistance against men because I had the opinion that women had an unjust place in society”, I say.

“When we married, the society was organised differently. The changes came later. On my return in South Limburg, I went back in time. In Limburg the relation between men and women were not so much changed”, you say.

[8]

The following post is about your return to Limburg and how you started to drift.

 

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Piping01.JPG

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jaguar.3point4.750pix.jpg

[3] See: Irvine, Lucy, Castaway. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984

[4] The verb root “Vraj” means in Sanskrit “go, walk”. Source: Egenes, Thomas, Introduction to Sanskrit – Part Two. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2005 p. 395. According to the electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta, “Vraj” also has the meaning “to go to (a woman)” and “have sexual intercourse with”.

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Renault_4_R_1123_1968.jpg

[6]  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saab_99_EMS_1974_(UK_Spec).jpg

[7] See also: Zie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaddish

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Ford5000.jpg