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I met my new visiting teaching companion on Sunday, just returned from a Hong Kong temple mission with her husband and it turns out she is “one-hundred percent Dutch” (her words). She was born in Amsterdam and emigrated with her parents to America in 1955 when she was ten.

I am one-hundred-percent Dutch as well, and in my excitement I may have tried to hug her, which is about the most anti-Dutch thing one can do. Emotion is an embarrassment to the Dutch. Fortunately, she was also a good humored woman and chatty, features I like about my fellow countrymen and women.

But there are down sides to being Dutch: you think you know everything, even what people are thinking. You don’t deserve a birthday party, unless you have it yourself and cook for all your guests. You don’t deserve anything, actually. Especially success. And there is that Calvinist guilt that we generate so effortlessly.

My new friend told me something I didn’t know. The old Calvinists had a rule that good people should not have window coverings. They had another rule: do not look into other people’s windows.

Well, of course. Trust the Dutch to come up with impossible rules. Here I thought those windows with the potted plants in them and a tiny rim of lace at the top were so friendly, so inviting. I loved gawking through them.

Turns out that gawking is against the rules.

I’ve been butting up against other people’s rules all my life. Perhaps the modern Dutch, with their ultra-progressive social programs, like me, are butting up against those Calvinist forefathers.

Am I on my high horse? Better get down before I hurt myself.

Thursday, I will go visiting teaching with my new friend and she will speak Dutch to me and I will be happy.

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