Who doesn’t dream of changing things in their country? If we didn’t have to take anyone into account, how would we let our country function? So I did some daydreaming. If I am 85 in 50 years, what would the Netherlands look like?
First and foremost, I wouldn’t want to see personal cars anymore. You order a car because you have to be somewhere at a certain time, indicating for how many people you need the vehicle, and so on, and so on. Almost immediately you will receive a confirmation stating at what time you will be picked up. On the day itself the car is in front of your house in time. Any changes or intermediate stops have been added to your reservation later.
You get into the car and indicate that you can leave. At the very first option, the car disappears underground. You are now reading a book or watching TV. All cars around you react to each other and therefore you can drive close to each other and traffic jams are rare. If it’s busy somewhere then the car automatically finds a better route. If you stop 45 minutes later at the home of a good friend who lives 150 km away, you get out relaxed.
Now that I’m 85 years old and still in good health, I still enjoy my life in the peace and quiet of the countryside. My house, just like everyone else’s, is not my property. I pay a small fixed amount per month for the home and everything is included. My house is almost completely energy neutral, just like almost all other houses. The community, or you can also call it a village in which I live, consists of a diverse group of people. That way we can take care of each other. When I wanted to move to a new environment a few years ago, there were a number of communities where they could use my knowledge and experience. Now I live in a quiet village with about 1000 people of all ages. Together we keep the whole village running and provide each other with a large amount of basic services.
I’ve just arrived in Amsterdam, visiting a friend who feels more at home in the city. The cities have not grown in surface area for about 40 years. All low-rise buildings that we saw for so long have gradually made way for high-rise buildings. Yet the city now has a very green appearance. The stone and glass buildings of the beginning of the 21st century have made way for buildings of about 15 stories high that are covered as much as possible in plants. Public parks have been created between the buildings.
Meanwhile I‘m sitting in the cozy living room of my girlfriend’s house, together we look out over the city. We think back to our youth and how different our country looked like. How we 50 years ago as citizens began to get tired of the fact that nature and the environment was still a side issue and not a main issue. That money and property was important, but the beauty of the country was completely overlooked. We are very happy with the rebellion of our compatriots. It all started with the youth who shouted that they had to live here longer and had the feeling that the adults were wrecking their country. We agreed, but never had the guts to put our fists in the air. Once it started, we couldn’t stay behind. We united and demanded change from our government. Together we managed that plans were made not for the period politicians are in office, but for the coming decades and how that could be achieved step by step.
Slowly our society changed back from individualistic to social. Of course, not everyone was satisfied with this change, but slowly people started to get used to it and now many wouldn’t want anything else.
After lunch we leave on rented electric bikes towards the center of the city. We go to the Rijksmuseum that after all these years is still as beautiful. It’s the first time that I am going in there. We marvel at bizarre modern art, which we actually understand very little of. Of course we will also look at the Night Watch. It is still the most popular part of the collection so we have to be patient before we can see it well.
We’ve become thirsty from all that art and we leave for a restaurant a bit further in the city. With a drink in hand we talk about how our landscape has changed. Because all motorways have disappeared underground, the landscape has become an uninterrupted whole after a long time, where the villages and towns seem to have been placed in it as islands. Only cycling and walking paths still run above ground. The fences that once had to prevent animals from ending up on the road were all taken away. If my girlfriend is visiting me, we’ll go out on the countryside to be surprised by the amount of wild animals that can move freely throughout the country after so much time.
By now we’ve ordered a meal and our conversation is changing to food production in our country. How we used to eat dishes with ingredients that had just been transported to the other side of the world, and how almost our entire country was pasture or field. Nowadays, the meat that we eat sporadically is all grown in special breeding factories, without the need for another animal. With the help of some genetic adjustments, we can now grow vegetables and fruit much more efficiently than before. This is also happening in buildings with several floors. Resulting in in the release of much more land, connecting the originally fragmented nature areas. Small-scale farming is still being done in all small communities. We are largely independent of what happens in other parts of the country. Of course, the Netherlands still exports part of its revenue and we can still eat delicacies from other countries, but the focus is more on the locally produced food.
After dinner we leave for the son of my good friend. He also lives in the city with his wife and two children. It takes very little time the electric bikes. Their home is a lot bigger than mine or my girlfriend’s. Nowadays money has nothing to do with the surface of your home. Only your family composition determines how big your home is. This leaves enough room for everyone to live and nature. We drink a cup of tea and watch how the night falls. Nowadays we can see the stars well again. The illumination of motorways no longer exists and lighting along bicycle and footpaths automatically turns on and off when you pass by. The color of the lighting now also provides much less light scattering. Of course, everything in the city is well-lit for safety, but we can now really see the deep darkness outside the city again
The day is over and I am going back to my little house outside the city. I report my reserved car that I would like to leave. I get a message that he can be there in about 10 minutes. I say goodbye to everyone and together with my girlfriend I go outside to catch some evening air before I start my return journey. I promise to drop her off before I take my ride home. That way she does not have to go back on the bike by her own. When the car arrives we get in quickly and I enter the extra stop before we drive away. At her house we say goodbye to each other and we quickly make a new appointment. We can now visit each other so easily that we gladly do so. During the ride back home I am very happy with the life I live and have lived. I wouldn’t want it any other way.