Mayor’s new stamp

Burgemeester-Bruls-ruimt-op.jpgAs a resident of a city, you don’t have a choice when it comes to mayors. That’s why I held my breath when, together with the publisher of our pilgrimage book Seasons of Life , I contacted the mayor of Nijmegen, Hubert Bruls. We hoped that he would provide a page for our book with a view on his personal philosophy of life. Every pilgrim can submit such a page after walking a Walk of Wisdom and in this way we want to create a new pilgrimage tradition.

After some insistence and patience for a while, I was invited to visit. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Bruls took the time for me. He immediately started, but then corrected himself with an apology: let me first hear what exactly the intention is. You will read the result of the conversation later Seasons of Life. Here’s what I want to reveal about it right now: 

Bruls calls for leadership. According to him, the idea that we live in a ‘flat society’ without authority relations is “distorted”. People do look up to what people in high positions do and say and he regularly notices how important it is that he shows his face at small-scale social initiatives. “People then see: he is not only there when the king comes or the Four Days Marches is opened, he is also there with us. In doing so, I express something, not as a person, but as the first citizen and I send a signal: it’s good that you are doing this.”

However, he had to learn the social role of ‘mayor’. “People used to call me a file eater. I was a rationalist and wanted to impress others with my knowledge.” But along the way, he discovered the importance of feeling. A feeling that he wants to be reflected in his speeches and in the choices he makes as the first citizen: “When I enter a place now, I not only go to the important people, but also to the people behind the bar. I also have a chat with them.” He sees that people appreciate that and it fills him with great satisfaction. 

Bruls also had a message for people who are not in a leadership position. According to him, society is not made by one or two people or a small elite, but by everyone who wants to contribute to that society in a positive way. Through their choices, people propagate certain norms and values and thus give shape and substance to the city. In their actions and even their tone of speech, people set an example for each other, they live for each other. Each of us has that position. 

I think that’s a great message. It is a message that respects everyone and gives respect to all people who try to do the right thing at their level and place in society. A message that leaves room for who you are as an individual, but at the same time invites you to take your place among others. How you do that is not only important for yourself, but also for those around you. Go and walk on it for a day!


(Photo: Bruls during the litter clean-up Clean Waal Challenge