King's Christmas Address an argument praising differences, unity
In his sixth Christmas Day address to the Netherlands, Dutch King Willem-Alexander spoke in support of equal opportunities and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even quoting former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Willem-Alexander used his annual platform to speak out against intimidation, extremism, and marginialization of people deemed "different".
"Freedom, equality and fair opportunities for everyone also depend on the way we interact with one another on a daily basis," he said. "We are not as powerless as we think," he said, reflecting that our ability to make life better for each other is not something reserved for politicians at conference tables, but rather something that takes place in our own neighborhoods.
He made this connection by quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, a prominent force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 70 years ago at the United Nations. "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world," she said.
The Dutch royal figure contrasted this sentiment with people's tendency to succumb to fear and anger. "It is not always easy to hold the belief [in a happy and peaceful future]. Those who follow the news sometimes lose faith," he said.
"Reports of intimidation and extremism, far away but also near by, can make us angry. Against the fierce and brutal forces in the world, it often feels like ordinary are powerless."
However, he noted, the Netherlands was formed 450 years ago when several small Dutch provinces decided form an alliance to face adversity as a united front. "Active citizens who want to work together despite their differences," is the main tenant of the Netherlands, he said.
"That is what makes us strong," he added, later saying, "A bright future is possible, provided we keep faith in ourselves, and in each other."
It was a sentiment not entirely different from his 2017 speech, when he asked Netherlands residents to get out of their own bubbles and interact with more people in their communities. Solidarity amidst our differences was also a theme in the 2016 Christmas speech, while overcoming fear of world events played a prominent part in the 2015 text.
Earlier in his speech, he empathized with people suffering from loneliness and missing loved ones during the holiday season. "My wife and I know what you are going through," he said.
This past summer, Queen Maxima's sister, Ines Zorreguieta Cerruti, killed herself, less than a year after her father, Jorge Zorreguieta, passed away. The King also lost his brother, Prince Johan Friso, at the age of 44 from injuries incurred during an avalanche. Their father, Prince Claus, died 16 years ago after a lengthy illness.
"I wish you all - wherever you are and whatever your personal circumstances are - a blessed Christmas," he said in closing.