Ed Lonnee

Ruud Lubbers – The Joyful Celebration of an Extraordinary Life

How to honor a mentor like Ruud Lubbers? An important presence in our lives for a decade, former Prime-Minister Ruud Lubbers made a lasting impression. We were invited to contribute to a book about him by Earth Charter and SBI. To commemorate the one year anniversary of his passing, we celebrate Ruud by sharing our piece.

A celebration of conversation

Youthful energy is impatient. It wants action, change, impact, and its wants it now! We come to see conversation as the opposite of action. Could it be that in all our urgency, we lose the art of dialogue?

Sitting with Ruud Lubbers for a cup of tea, we could never help but wonder how we got so lucky to spend time with this extraordinary person. We could be engaged in deep conversation for hours. An external observer may wonder: what could they possibly have in common?

In our encounters, we cast out various dimensions in which to connect, looking for the similarities rather than the differences. He was from Rotterdam, so was Ama's family. Perhaps her grandmother Ella had known him or his family? At an Earth Charter event, he planted a tree with Ama's daughter, who happened to be celebrating her third birthday. In this way there was no question about it anymore; he certainly did know Ella van Dantzig.

And what were we all working towards? We found that we shared a deep love for the living system on this Earth, a commitment to sustainability, justice and peace.

Committing yourself to finding connection in conversation, is a process of humanization. That we are human is a fact. And yet we find ourselves in a world where we dehumanize others with our generalizations, assumptions and stereotypes.

To share stories with family, friends, extraordinary mentors, or perfect strangers, is to notice that we are all just human beings, waiting to be seen. When we have truly seen each other, we must celebrate.

The global is personal

Ruud Lubbers had the ability to move smoothly between the personal and the global. He was interested in the spiritual aspects of life, and often invited others to see its magic. He also understood the realities of global governance. And in the decade we knew him, he worked tirelessly to combine the two, putting spirit into the global transition we are in.

As someone knowing his family history in detail, he showed us how the personal is the global. By understanding where you come from and cultivating a deep interest in the context your fore-bearers moved in, you gain a deeper understanding of the world, and how you may overcome challenges.

The interaction between Ruud and his Ria showed us another side of how the personal and the global are interwoven. Having someone by your side – firmly by your side – with a healthy dose of intelligence, humor and perspective, helps you to make your difference in a grounded way. When we find that love, we must celebrate.

Grab those eels

"Opportunities are like eels – you need to grab them before they slither away." Ruud Lubbers did not seem to waste a day in moving things forward. With unbridled energy and vigor, he conscientiously worked on what he found important. You can do a lot with your day - just pick up the phone and start. When the eels are grabbed, we must celebrate.

The joy in encouragement

Personal bonds get even more powerful when filled with kindness and encouragement. When Lynn participated in a television show aiming to scout Holland's Next Prime-Minister, Ruud Lubbers helped her prepare. A real Prime-Minister who thinks along with you and cheers you on – how great is that?

Ruud Lubbers did not fail to show his appreciation for the ideas and effort put in by those around him. He also reminded us to remain vigilant of cynicism. He always quoted the last sentence in the Earth Charter, on the joyful celebration of life. Joyful celebration - even in the face of adversity and in the struggle for justice and peace. In a world that makes joyfulness an act of defiance, we must celebrate.

With gratitude, we take Ruud Lubbers up on his invitation to practice the art of conversation, bring spirit to global change, seize opportunities like eels, and act with kind attention always. As a lasting celebration of an extraordinary life.

"Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life." - Ruud Lubbers' favorite part of the Earth Charter

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