Letje en JeltoAt school I was taught about Voltaire and his notion of ‘free speech’. Satire was part of Voltaire’s chosen way to express ideas and to shine a light on things wrong in society (from his point of view).

I grew up with a father who made often uncomfortable cartoons, caricatures of his teachers, his parents, employers, our teachers, himself, professions, and than the limericks came and the letters to our teachers when we were reprimanded by them. Pure, pure satire!

We only saw these caricatures, not many people outside of his safe family circle came to know his often scathing,  truer than true reality, immensely humorously drawings.

My father grew up with Voltaire too.

In a negative way I can see my fathers creative outlet as passive aggressive, in a positive way (and that’s how I saw it, that’s how it felt at the time, and it does now), I see a breaking of tension, of seeing situations in a different light. It was not always respectful. But we talked as a family about the drawings, the outrageousness of them, and the situation how and why they where drawn. And the laughter, oh the laughter!

My father taught us too, to “never accept authority”, to always ask questions. (This did cut his presence as a soldier in the Dutch army as short as possible).

I was taught to think critically, see the satire in situations, and especially the humour of situations, to express those feelings to the ones I wanted to express them with. That’s not always easy, often uncomfortable, but some things need to be said and shown. My mother, who grew up with Voltaire as well, also taught me to keep looking and listening to my own peaceful heart. I wish this for the world now.