We’re working on a boat today, a Dutch barge, converted into a rather splendid houseboat. Four of us, coming together to share ideas in person, to co-create a story, to learn. This morning, we sat on deck, with a teapot and four mugs, catching up, when suddenly a brass band kicked into life. Here in Amsterdam, it’s Liberation Day, a time when the country comes together to celebrate 70 years since they were liberated in the Second World War. A big celebration, and we happen to be floating right next to one of the concert venues.
Flags are being raised, dancers and musicians are hanging around and everyone’s preparing for tonight’s concert. Later on, the King will come right past our boat on the Royal barge, ready to moor up for the event.
Ritual. Ceremony. The signifiers of history and cohesive glue of society. Forged over time, embedded in our cultural conscience.
I think about it sometimes in emergent communities: where do we find our rituals? At some point, society agrees upon them, society decides what it wants to celebrate, what it fears, what it desires. Over time, the origins grow faint, they fade into obscurity, until only the celebration of the thing remains.
It’s these shadows, these relics, embodied in our behaviour and beliefs that record their passing. But the length of those shadows gives us a shared history, a cohesion, a society.
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