Dirty Things are Never Dirty at Dirty Places

We went to the beach last Saturday, enjoying the early spring air. It’s amazing that only a week before, people were busy ice-skating in every corner of The Netherlands, and 7 days later the beach was literally full of people. Around 20 Celcius grades differ in only a week time!

Every time I go to the beach I always ponder this interesting philosophy about the sand. The minute I touch the sand with my foot, there is nothing but comfort (unless it’s freaking hot in the summer) to let the sand touch every inch of my skin, I bare-footed walk around, bury my feet inside the sand, touch it with my hands… it screams freedom all the way to feel all the little particles touch my skin and try to reach the horizon, far out from my reach but yet laying there in front of my eyes.

But by the time we decide to go home, this little thing called sand becomes the most annoying thing. It sticks on the hair of my kids, glued to their little legs and feet, stuck in the middle of their plump bottoms. And by the time we get in our car, the rest of the sand that still sticks in their clothes and sandals, dirty our car in a count of seconds. Its bright colour makes a contrast with the black car interior. It sticks everywhere. It goes into our house, carried by our shoes. I have to pre-wash every single item again and again before I can safely put them in the washing machine – because I don’t want the sand to stick inside the machine.

It was very interesting how the change of location can change the value of sand. At one place it’s wonderful. At another place it’s annoying.

I guess it goes almost that way with sin. Sin, our little sins, won’t be clearly seen or felt when we’re standing in a “sinful” place. If I were a thief, a pickpocket, standing in the midst of innocent people (there’s no innocent people, I know. I’m just making an example) – I would be the only different one. People will run after me, people will try to catch me. People will try to “clean” me. But if I were a thief and I stand in a National Congress of American Thieves (for example), nobody would bother with the fact that I’m living a dishonest life. Perhaps my stories, my tricks and tips would be worth sharing among us co-thieves. Perhaps other thieves find me brilliant.

Or if I love to curse, I would be outstanding among people who don’t like to do that. People would find me rude and feel uncomfortable to talk with me. But among people who cuss like they are drinking water, I’m their forever best friends. Bad words? What bad words? Nothing is bad here, bro!

When we were young, my mother made sure that her children don’t mingle with children with bad influences. Yes, you might think we were picky, we were not friendly, we didn’t value humans with the same level of worth – yeah, perhaps you’re right, but being a child we were easily influenced by our surroundings and we picked up things fast – whether it’s good or bad.

There were this group of young men who loved to hang out outside around our housing complex. It started innocently when the youngsters joined some religious activities and decided to come home later than they should do, and soon enough there was no reason for this daily gathering. It became a habit. They were always there, talking, singing, while squatting. (I never understand the reason WHY men love to squat while hanging out, I NEVER understand).

It went for years, since I was like in the senior year of elementary school, to the day I went to the university and I moved to another city for my study. They were always there. But one by one, I heard from my mom, that some of these young men passed away tragically from drug overdose. It broke my heart, truly, because most of them were the childhood friends of my brothers. As the youngest and the only girl in the family, I always followed my brothers everywhere so I basically knew these men personally. How ironic to think that people who had the same start with us might end up with a very different ending from us.

I guess my mother’s decision to be rather strict and keeping us at home (beside school and all lessons) were actually wise. My brother and I were spared from such tragedy.

This brought me into the thinking that we are always to be careful in our actions and to which group we belong. “Birds of the feather flock together”, says an English proverb. We need to make sure to which flock we belong, and whether this flock brings out the good in us, or without us realizing it they ‘normalise’ the bad in us. 

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