From November onwards, it is impossible not to notice that Christmas is in the air. Sparkling colored lights decorate town centers and shops, while lampposts mast Christmas symbols like holly and candy canes.

Early December means shopping Centers become increasingly hectic, often staying open till late. Sound systems pump out Christmas tunes and small choir sing carols in the streets to raise money for well-worthy causes.

Employers hold Christmas parties with plenty of food and drinks for their staff. Traditional eggnog may mean that little work is done after the party! Shouts of ‘Merry Christmas’ is heard everywhere.

By mid-December most homes boast decorated evergreen trees and electric coloured lights blinking around fences and draped over rooflines. Now-a-days fewer people post greeting cards to their friends and family, choosing to send email messages instead.

Lately, however, throughout these joyous festivities, people fail to consider the religious meaning of Christmas – and don’t go to church, not even at Christmas.

What do we expect from Christmas?

What about Christmas makes sense?

Since about 400 AD, Christians have celebrated the birth of Jesus. ‘Christ’ means ‘Messiah’ or ‘Anointed One’ – the title given to Jesus – and ‘Mass’ is a religious event.

There are others who have not forgotten the real meaning of Christmas and their children believe in Jesus. They recognize the little baby in the Christmas stable and are eager to visit – their little fingers touch Him with tenderness and care; their young eyes bright with joy.

How could any of us truly be able to forget, or ignore, or neglect?

As long as we have little treasures like our children, who believe, and delight in the recognition of the truth – we remember to celebrate Christmas for its true meaning – the birth of the Son of God.

These children are the future of our existing world; they are the ones who recognize Christmas for what it is and always will remain.

They will not forget or ignore, or neglect the meaning of ‘Christmas’: the birth of Jesus, the rightful Son of God.








My parents were Dutch. That makes me Dutch also; but I am Indonesian-born – a country which a Dutch writer, Multatuli, named: ‘The Emerald Girdle’. Multatuli was famous for his satirical novel ‘Max Havelaar’, which denounced the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch Indies.

I left this ‘Emerald Girdle’ an eternity ago, yet carried in my memory it’s beauty and the sweetness of her people. I’ve been Canadian longer than I’ve been Dutch; and even longer since I’ve been allowed the beauty of the ‘Emerald Girdle’ – more than a lifetime ago. Despite those cruel and bitter World War II years, I remained attached to the land where I was born.

That is, until now.

Until I was told about the 1965/1966 killing of more than a million alleged Communist Indonesians, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. A bone-chilling documentary ‘The Act of Killing’ created by the young movie director Joshua Oppenheimer that won the 2014 best Documentary Bafta Award:

 This is a film impossible to ignore. ‘The Act of Killing’ has been viewed by many – even millions of Indonesians. The Government and anti-communist organizations continue their attempts to stop its distribution, but in our age of multi-media, this seems impossible. The Indonesian people committed mass murders and rejoiced in the act, while once again the rest of the world did not pay much attention. Like the Japanese before them, the Indonesians did not consider their actions crimes – admitting no guilt; admitting no responsibility, in their massacre of innocent after innocent.

Oppenheimer’s work effectively shattered my rooted attachment to the land of my birth. It’s a chilling and heartbreakingly cruel documentary that has stilled and closed all memories of the cherished beauty and loveliness around my young experiences on the island of my birth. I had always defended the character and identity of the Indonesian people. But Oppenheimer has forever changed my opinion. The more I delve deeper in the history of the 1965/1966 mass murders, the farther I feel the ‘Emerald Girdle’ fade away; and it’s people, the way I remembered them, disappear in a distant mist of disappointed pain.

Will this international attention cause Indonesia to break its silence and help it to come to terms with its past?

Will Indonesia be forced to deal with the ‘human rights’ in its country?

Will this end MY disillusion and regret for having lost what I thought unique and free of ugliness and evil?

If you’re interested, this Documentary is out on both DVD and Blu-ray and more can be followed on Facebook and Twitter:













Continued from: Was it necessary for the United States to end World War II by dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki?

The entire historical political background of the United States (President Truman), Japan (The Japanese Army), and The Soviet Union (Stalin), was complicated; plans and actions were carefully hidden and unrevealed.

Around the same time Emperor Hirohito surrendered, Russia declared war to Japan and invaded Manchuria, which was occupied by Japan. Russia had also started to build its own atom bomb.

President Truman was afraid that if Japan did not surrender soon, the United States would have to deal with Russia in the after-war future. The only way to prevent that would be to force the Japanese Army to surrender.

The Japanese Army would have never surrendered – it was Emperor Hirohito’s decision to surrender Japan. His address to the Japanese population declared: “We have to go through the unbearable. Japan has to surrender because the enemy used a new and cruel weapon”.

The Japanese Minister of War, General Anami, wanted to continue fighting, even after the second bomb fell on Nagasaki. He longed for a final disastrous struggle on Japanese soil, if only to pay homage to the Japanese soldiers killed in battle.

President Truman always declared never to regret the use of the second bomb. His reasoning was simple, making the horror of the atom bomb less relevant. “Imagine I had not given the order for the second bomb. More than ten thousand American soldiers would have died. How could I later justify I had the weapon to end the war early in my hands, and I decided not to use it”.

Was president Truman’s reasoning correct? Was the second bomb less relevant? Maybe not so simple after-all. I suppose that answer changes depending on who provides the answer.




Was it necessary for the U.S. to end World War II by dropping two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Seventy years later this question remains unanswered by both the Americans and Japanese.

Was there no other choice to end the second World War this way? Was there an alternative? Was it unavoidable? Immoral? Did it save more lives then it sacrificed?

The following information is taken from an article, published 20 years ago. It was written exactly fifty years after the war ended and translated to English in 2015.

 On Monday morning, August 6, 1945 at 8:15, the B-29 Bomber ‘Enola Gay’ dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima. Forty-three seconds later and 9020 meter lower this 20-kiloton weighing projectile exploded. It caused a blinding flash of light and a hellish heat, somewhere between 3000 and 4000 degree C. The ones close by the place of explosion were lucky: they died immediately. They dissolved in smoke and when the smoke lifted they remained just a small heap of ash. Further away the streams of heat burned eyes and caused serious mutilations. Women moved around with their skin hanging around them as kimonos. Burned people in shock kept their arms stiff ahead of them to avoid touching someone else, creating a macabre picture of walking ghosts. They moaned for water.

An eyewitness account of someone in jail in Fukuoaka14, a Japanese prison camp south of Nagasaki testified: Lying flat on my belly, I saw a sharp light flash over my back and I felt the burning heat of the light go over my body. It didn’t touch me anywhere since I had pressed myself forcefully against the bottom of the ditch. The light was immediately followed by thunder, which seemed to rumble tenfold in the ground. It became pitch black… When I saw the devastation, I thought I witnessed the end of the world. I saw people with cloths in shreds ripped off their bodies and when I could see better I saw people with pealed off skin, bleeding and crying. They walked like chickens without heads, falling over and through heaps of rubbish’.

Eighty thousand people died instantly and around fifty thousand succumbed in the months that followed. Tens of thousands suffered immensely afterwards with the results of radioactivity.

This was August 6, 1945. President Truman, Commander in Chief of the United States, issued a serious warning to Japan and demanded surrender. But the Japanese Army didn’t believe the bomb on Hiroshima was an atom bomb and if by chance the bomb could have been an atom bomb, they didn’t think America possessed a second.

They did not surrender!

The gruesome results of the bomb on Hiroshima is bringing up the urgent question if the bomb on Nagasaki was necessary.

There are two issues to consider

Would Japan, after realizing that they had actually already lost the war, have surrendered without the second atom bomb?

And second, was America’s motivation aimed at Japan, or an effort to intimidate the Soviet Union and achieve a better negotiating platform over Europe, which was still suffering from after-war depression?

To be continued…


“Some of us die twice – the first time when earth and life disappears, and the second time when nobody mentions your name any more”. I heard someone say this once and it has stuck with me ever since.

That was a very long time ago and it’s haunted me for many years.

Until I discovered the solution to make sure it never happens with me; and to keep the ones I have loved and lost with me in a very simple way. I collect something very dear, very meaningful, and often very simple from them, and place it where I can see or touch it every day; as if I can see and touch the one I loved.

This didn’t bring much healing at the start of the process – that dark, painful missing. It only brought a lonely yearning and more tears.

But after some time passes it becomes easier and the tears transform into a trembling smile as soon as I touched, or see the memory treasure. This also brings forth feelings of regret and separation. The remains of war; the losses of the ones so dear needed to be mourned, almost forever.

But then I thought about my own words years ago, used in my book ‘The Remains of War’ and realized that long ago I had made peace with sorrow and losing: ‘For all of you we had to leave behind. You fought and lost your lives, but ultimately won over pain and evil. In my memory, I will always touch you.

Everything and everyone in life will pass, but after the rain, there is the sun shining through a rainbow, glowing radiantly with meanings of hope, trust, future and promise.

Many years ago a Dutch author wrote something I will never forget because I learned it to be very true. On the first page of his book, he wrote just a few words: ‘Niets bestaat dat niet iets anders aanraakt.’ ( ‘Bezonken Rood’, by Jeroen Brouwers).

Translated this means: ‘Nothing exist that doesn’t touch something else’.

How very true…


Hello Darling, you should be so proud!

The world has opened wide before you. At this time, allow me to send you some of the same words and wishes I used when I welcomed your little niece, Karai into the world on a cold winter’s day:

First just a bit of advice for you from me,

For I am old and you are very young!

 Take your time to be happy,

For you are and remain a living wonder on this earth.

You are unique, lovely, irreplaceable,

Do you know that?

You will be for us all your life.

And just for you Renee…

For you, the sun will shine and the rain will fall bringing with it all you need to learn

– for life is complicated.

There will be conflict in your life – there will be tears.

But inside of you, you’ll find a way to accept and change the shadows into light.

Throughout your journey you will feel all of us around you,

we always will be.

We send you all our positive thoughts, and it will give you the power to accept the process of life, no matter the way, or the how, it unfolds itself to you; for you are loved.

“The greatest wisdom is the wisdom of your self

and the greater light leads through darkness”. (Tao)

So take your time to be happy for when I think of you, I have only the best wishes for you.

As adulthood steals away your play-time, there may be dark times ahead and times you will cry: but most times you will

 Laugh and

Sing and

Dance and

Mostly you should just be happy,

For we all love you!

Renee is my oldest granddaughter.

She has just finished University and landed her first job.

Congratulations Renee.


Despite my best efforts to manage my negative feelings towards the Japanese soldiers for killing, raping, and breaking the spirits of millions – this goal was never accomplished; I never discovered how to change the negative state of my mind.  

Seventy years have passed since the war ended. Those years never took away those memories – they remain a part of me, forever. The art of survival lived in me without my being aware of it. It would have been so easy to surrender.

 As stated in my previous blog, I consider those four years of war both “important and forming” but I will never be able to identify those experiences with the feelings in my mind and heart. Those years are not meant to “teach”. They are unnatural, distorted and merciless. They have transformed people into what they were never meant to be.

The first ten years following the war may have released me from imprisonment, but freedom did not bring back happiness, love or trust. Peace was a long forgotten treasure.

Years later healing and joy was returned to me by a man who loved me, without reservation; broken and damaged as I was. By my children, one after another, who showed me I am capable of a love that is pure and unconditional.

Slowly the doors opened – doors I was positive were closed forever.

That man and those children gently put the evil to rest and helped me surrender to a sense of peace, allowing fragments of joy, beauty and love to shine through the darkness.

Life itself taught me to pray and heal and hope.

World War II left behind an endless trail – millions deep of scarred and damaged persons. This same war will soon be forgotten – remembered only in history books – as there will be no survivors left to remind the others.

Truly there is a need for forgiveness.

Christ ordered: “Follow me”.

Perhaps I am getting close.