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Word of the day: verzoening (reconciliation)

‘De menselijkste mens is heen’, the humanest of humans has moved on to the realm of myths. He embodied appeasement, he was peace made flesh. VERZOENING, reconciliation is what he will always stand for. 

VERZOENING is a poignant word. It is one of those words that speak for themselves. At its heart is the word ZOEN. In today’s Dutch the word is mainly known as ’kiss’. Many centuries ago it mainly meant ‘reconciliation’.

When our medieval forefathers and mothers decided to settle a dispute, they sealed it with a kiss of peace. After this kiss had been given, the two parties had made up and were appeased (VERZOEND). VERZOENING had been effected and harmony had been restored. We still see world leaders kiss each other not out of affection but to show that they are at peace with one another.

In time the reconciliatory ZOEN led to the affectionate ZOEN which is also known by the Dutch word KUS (kiss). So it was not the other way around as I had always thought. Etymologically speaking, affection did not lead to reconciliation but the end of a fight led to the expression of friendship and love.

Funny too, that the word GEZOND (healthy) also embodies the word ‘ZOEN’. A sick body is not at peace with itself. GEZOND means that the bodily parts are harmonious again.

As you can see ‘een ZOEN is niet zomaar een ZOEN’ (a kiss is [not] just a kiss), as claimed by the Casablanca song ‘As Time Goes By’

‘You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.’

Or maybe Sam is right after all, when he sings that the fundamental things apply and that a kiss is just a kiss. Maybe we have just forgotten war is unusual and that peace is really the normal state of affairs.

The humanest of all humans knew this and so he has shown us that VERZOENING can make a society and all the people in it GEZOND (healthy) and GELUKKIG (happy). Healthier and happier than living in a chaotic confusion of aggression and war. As time goes by…