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  • Writer's pictureNikko Norte

One small village of indomitable Dutchmen holds out …

Happiness, my happiness, Marcus Aurelius once taught me, depends on the quality of my thoughts. But how, I asked Aurelius back then, how do I know whether my thoughts have quality? Thoughts have quality, Aurelius promptly responded, if they are virtuous, which – I was only a child, mind me – seemed like an easy way out. But Aurelius, I reminded myself to maybe better understand him, was a Stoic. Stoics realize they don’t control what happens to them. They do, however, control how they react to what happens to them. When reacting to what happens to them, they aim to do so wisely, courageously, moderately, and justly. Hm...

Most people in the pharmaceutical industry, almost all politicians, most medical doctors, and all mainstream media journalists are convinced – is there another option? – of the wisdom, the courage, perhaps not the moderation, but certainly the justice with which they faced the outbreak of the relatively harmless covid-19. What if those people had defined wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice the way Aurelius did? The world, in that case, would ... wait, wait, wait, I call my thoughts to a halt. How eh... how did Aurelius define wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice?

Wisdom, I think I’m certain, Aurelius defined as the ability to distinguish good from evil and to recognize indifference, courage he defined as the ability to prioritize logic and reason over emotion and to act upon them, moderation as the ability to take philosophical distance from what needs being acted upon, and justice as the capacity to do what is right and fair for a community as a whole. Arbitrary, I admit, which means ... ‘Nik!’ Heidi yells. I look down and notice Heidi gesturing me a few steps to the left.

Mid-April 2023. Beautiful weather when we arrived in Urk this morning, a small village in the Netherlands that only a hundred years ago was still an island in the Zuiderzee. The village is now connected to the mainland, and the Zuiderzee, cut off from the North Sea by a manmade dike in 1933, is now called the IJsselmeer. We are in Urk for some film shots of me on Urk’s old lighthouse. Easy job, but before we were set up, a sudden downpour of rain made us run to the car with our cameras and other equipment.

From the eighteen-meter-high platform around the lighthouse, shivering with cold in my wet tracksuit, I now divide my attention between Heidi, who scurries back and forth between her cameras in her insulated parka, and the vast expanse of water in front of me. The Romans, who conquered half of the Netherlands some two thousand years ago, called what is now called the IJsselmeer Lacus Flevo, and those words, Lacus Flevo, likely guided my thoughts to Marcus Aurelius.

As I step to the left until Heidi gestures I am where she wants me to be, I realize that maybe only a few people in the pharmaceutical industry, hardly any politicians, few medical doctors, and not a single mainstream media journalist derive their happiness from Aurelius, and to escape the oppressive feeling that realization sets me up with, I metaphorically dive into the Lacus Flevo.

The Romans decided not to occupy the area around the Lacus Flevo. A fortunate decision because around 200 AD, a thousand years after the last time it occurred, the sea level rose. For two hundred years, the Roman empire meanwhile declining, the Lacus Flevo and the surrounding area formed an inland sea, rather than a lake proper. Then, around 400 AD, the sea level dropped again. What remained, I again think I’m certain, was a lake people called Almaere, which existed only briefly because during the Medieval Warm Period, lasting from 900 AD to 1300 AD, the sea level rose again, giving birth to the Zuiderzee. After the Medieval Warm Period, starting with ceaseless rains from the autumn of 1315 to the summer of 1317, the Little Ice Age set in, and as late as 1849, the saltwater Zuiderzee still froze on occasions in the winter. Maybe there were winters after 1849 during which the Zuiderzee still froze, but I’m truly certain of the winter of 1849 because I remember the story of a fisherman who ended up on a drifting slab of ice with his sons while fishing for flounder through holes they dug in the ice on the Zuiderzee.

But I also remember another story. According to that story, I’m an idiot to believe in what some outdated books describe as the Medieval Warm Period. The Medieval Warm Period, the story goes, was an insignificant local phenomenon, and I chuckle when I hear myself mutter, ‘And God called the dry ground earth and the waters seas. And He saw that it was good although He realized a switch to make vessels communicate was missing.’

The current geological period, which has been going on for some two and a half million years now, is called Quaternary or Ice Age. Compared to earlier periods, the Earth’s temperature fluctuates considerably during the Quaternary. Long, cold glacials alternate with short, warm interglacials. The part of the Quaternary in which we live today, the Holocene, is an interglacial that started only 12.000 years ago, when the last glacial ended. Graphs of the temperature in the Quaternary show a sawtooth wave. Cold, warm, cold, warm. Cooling goes slowly, warming relatively fast. Significant climate changes in the Quaternary sometimes take place within the span of a human lifetime ...

Since the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about the 16th to the 19th century, the earth’s average temperature is slightly rising, and man, how great would it be if we could influence that temperature rise or maybe even influence the climate as a whole? Democratically, we could then choose the climate we prefer to live in, and ... ‘One minute!’ Heidi yells. I look up at the gray sky to then look at Urk’s rooftops. Covid ended the lives of most people in Urk like the plague once ended the life of Marcus Aurelius. If only the people of Urk had used their common sense, had not rebelled against the government, and had devotedly taken their covid shots. The pharmaceutical industry, through politicians and medical doctors whose words were spread by mainstream media journalists, warned the people of Urk that only a handful of them would survive covid without taking those shots. Out of piety, I guess, mainstream media journalists no longer mention a word about Urk …

Again, I chuckle – barely anyone in Urk died of covid – and with my arms over the railing of the platform on which I stand, I think of the waitress who served us coffee in a café just after we arrived here. I asked her about the lack of tourists upon which she replied that Urk had recently received some bad press.

‘That’s horrible,’ I had expressed my sympathy, ‘but the latest press we know of is that the people of Urk realized in time that vaccines against covid are ineffective and dangerous, and that lockdowns and masks don’t stop the spread of a respiratory virus. The bad press you mention we must somehow have missed.’

Since the roll out of the vaccines against covid, indifference, unsubstantiated certainties, and sophisms dominate the conversations Heidi and I engage in with most people. Out of self-preservation, and after having discovered that even the weather no longer is safe topic for casual conversation, we try to avoid conversations that exceed the level of the lack of tourists in villages usually flocked with them. But it was impossible to avoid a conversation with the four residents of Urk who joined us at our table after I had pretended not to understand what our waitress meant when she mentioned Urk to have recently received some bad press. That conversation was such a pleasant pre-2020 conversation that we missed a spell of dry weather. We were not allowed to pay for our coffees, and ... ‘Ready!’ Heidi yells from below.

‘Okay!’ I yell back, and I walk to the door that gives access to the platform. I turn around, walk to where I was just standing, hang my arms over the railing and gaze broodingly across the IJsselmeer until Heidi yells, ‘Again!’

Trice, I walk from that door to the railing. Then, Heidi yells we are done. Stiffly, I shuffle down the lighthouse steps, and for no reason, I think of a British politician who once stated that people must be uneducated, fearful, and demoralized to control them. Education, I discovered as a child – studying Aurelius my own doing – has been thrown away with the bathwater the day compulsory schooling was introduced, the WHO keep us gobbling in fear, and the IPCC wholesales demoralization …

Wonderful club, that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Based on evaluations of studies published in scientific journals, the panel advises the same governments that worship the WHO, and it is deemed irrelevant that the scientific journals publishing the studies it evaluates are owned by the same people who fund the WHO and therefor never publish anything that undermines the climate lie. Meanwhile, in New York, the Climate Clock ticks away the seconds until doomsday, and ... ‘Done?’ the lighthouse janitor asks when I reach the first floor. I shake his hand, walk to the car, reach under the passenger seat for what I need to make coffee, and make coffee while Heidi searches for Moos, our German shepherd, which is still rummaging around at the foot of the lighthouse.

Navigating out of Urk, the car’s windows fogged up, rain comes down heavily. Heidi pours coffee from our Stanley thermos in two mugs, and I realize that the quality of my thoughts is a premise for my happiness, and eh... okay, in that sense my happiness depends on the quality of my thoughts. But how, I ask myself, how do I know whether my thoughts have quality? My thoughts have quality, I promptly answer, if they are free of indoctrination, indifference, and sophisms, to which I add that my thoughts, to have quality, need not be free of emotion for as long as reason and logic prevail when I react to what happens to me ...

We leave Urk behind and return to the part of the world where indifference and not reacting to what happens to us are elevated to virtues and where cognitive dissonance is synonymous with happiness. What if we accept that compulsory education – which should be a right to study instead – has led us to an all-time low of indifference – life-threatening conformism a better description – and has made us addicted to the dis- and misinformation provided by the mainstream media? What if we stopped reading mainstream newspapers, if only for a month, and stopped watching mainstream news broadcast and talk shows? What if we turned to the alternative media, if only for a month, and to the research and podcasts of scientists not affiliated with the WHO or the IPCC? It would call an end to our indifference and fear, and nothing could possibly demoralize us any longer. We would react wisely, courageously, moderately, and justly to what happens to us, and like Marcus Aurelius, we would every morning happily realize what a privilege it is to be alive …


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