CRUISE – Global Terror in Rotterdam, Netherlands

5 May

Our printed schedule announces the port city of Cagliari, Sardinia. Since that would be pretty much on the other side of the European continent from yesterday’s port, I attribute that confusion to the late night beer consumption by our manager. As I leave the ship it becomes clear that we are still in the Netherlands, in the sparkling city of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam, port view

Rotterdam, Netherlands, has a pretty unique structure to it. The great number of bridges and the variation in architecture makes it worth a second look.

The newspaper stands that I pass on my way through the city are full of political turmoil and terrorism. I am slightly surprised. There is much I do not know because I don’t actually get any news anymore, neither through my preciously numbered internet minutes, nor from the TVs in the crew area, which are usually only speaking in Portuguese or Spanish. Granted, I could use the telly in my sleeping cubicle, but that would take away precious sleeping time.

Anyway, human horror is on the loose – someone bombed a train in Saint Petersburg; at least three big terrorist organisations run amok in the Middle East and Europe; while Korean Kim and US Donald play Hide & Seek with reality (and with nukes). Once upon a time this situation would have been scary like a gorilla on the subway. But nowadays people don’t really seem to care anymore. Has the world become so dangerous that nuclear warfare just blends in with the rest of our daily risks? Or do we just live our lives so remote from reality that “nuclear warhead” and “suicide bomber” have become mere phrases, void of personal meaning?

Street view of Rotterdam, feat. bikes

Street view of Rotterdam. Busy with bike cycles!

Whatever the reason, the world is changing, and while technology and globalisation have made this world smaller, the daily flood of moving pictures and foreign sound bites has vastly reduced our personal association with and involvement in that world. We know that those bombs are real; we accept that it is pure luck that saves ourselves from the next terror attack. Armed lunatics have access to the same public facilities that we do, so there is nowhere to hide from their unscheduled attacks. Thus, there is no point in running.

We feel helpless against that barrage of threats, so we resign our fear, instead embracing life as it comes. And the terror at our doorstep becomes just another component of our daily lives; always nagging, always threatening. Yet, the terror remains without any real power, because we have accepted the lack of safety, and are therefore no longer susceptible to dangers that are of no immanent concern. As long as ISIS does not hijack our social media pages, or manipulate the pricing for digital TV dragons, it won’t have a chance to penetrate our daily mist of information. And thus, we are save. By default.

PS.: Here are some more photos of Rotterdam, the city of weird architecture and bike cycles.

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