I’ve always known that Holland was one of the best countries in the world, but here’s a fascinating look at all the reasons why. This entertaining documentary shows all the fun stuff like legalized brothels and ‘coffeehouses’ (places where hashish is sold and consumed openly), as well as cool stuff like nude beaches (women are actually allowed to go topless on any beach in the country), female priests, and ‘banana bars’ (don’t ask!). But the underlying point is the tremendous amount of tolerance that people there have for other people’s rights, and for accepting the distribution of wealth in the way of high taxation for the rich. Despite the legalization of numerous ‘vices’, Holland has the lowest rates in sex-related diseases, abortion and teen pregnancy (sex education is mandatory in all schools, and all schools BTW, are free and equal in terms of quality of education). And it has among the lowest rates in terms of drug abuse, despite the fact that ‘soft drugs’ are legal, and methadone and clean needles are given to anyone who asks. Poverty is virtually non-existent, as is racism and homophobia (ACT UP actually had to leave Holland because there was nothing to act up against!). And the Woman’s Party is insuring the strongest policies against inequality and violence against women. Add legalized abortion and euthanasia, and strong environmental policies (one-fifth of Greenpeace’s world membership resides in Holland), and you’ve basically got a model society. All of these policies would mean nothing though in any other country because as Holland acknowledges, the most important thing is that everyone is brought up to respect other people’s rights and to believe in the common good of the people over one’s own moral or religious beliefs (and in some cases, personal selfishness). It is a country that really does exist for all of the people, and even in its practice of leniency of vices, it ironically insures a safer world. For the one thing Holland is dedicated to being against is intolerance and violence. It is an amazing phenomenon to see a society functioning so well, especially when one considers a city like Amsterdam, which is among the highest population per capita in the world, and where up to 50% of the population are from other countries with vastly different cultural backgrounds. I’m sure it is not a perfect society. The film sort of overshadows any negative aspects. But it is as perfect a society that we could ever hope to see. And the film really does make one re-evaluate what freedom, liberty, justice for all and democracy really mean. And how far the USA has so profoundly regressed from those utopian elements on which it was founded.
My grade: 8