You and us, we have something in common. Like an interest in each other, a shared vision or a long-term collaboration. In all of this this the word ‘together’ is key which is of great joy to us. In line with the Dutch annual tradition of choosing a new word to sum up the past year, we would therefore like to declare ‘together’ as Word of the Year 2018. Also because the national choice, however new and comical, saddened us a bit because of its emphasis on negative phenomena. Exaggerating or even reinforcing colliding elements in society by doing so. We would much rather advise to zoom in on positive trends and think up new words to describe these. Like the word ‘bridger’ for someone who acts as an interpreter between people with different standpoints by translating their perspectives to bridge the gaps. Or perhaps ‘syntheticism’, for the growing movement of people who understand that reconciliation of differences is not merely possible, but inherently necessary.

However, we could also take a less comical route and add new meaning to existing terms. Such as ‘bonus’ for the goodwill and appreciation that accumulates when one unites people whose personalities or backgrounds do not easily compute. By the way, we could also interpret this literally and create a new kind of reward for people who commit themselves to improving relationships and cooperation in word and deed.

Oldie but a goldie

But we kept it simple and chose from the many beautiful words that already exist to characterise a trend. This resulted in our choice for ‘together’, because we believe it characterizes 2018. Not that it was always easily recognizable. It often hid below the surface and manifested itself in unappealing disguises. Only when taking a better look could one see ‘togetherness’ at the heart of it all. Both the refreshing – such as the feverish search for common ground – and the unsavory trends – like getting irritated with others who do not appear to seek the same and subsequently feeling entitled to exclude or even punish them. After all, is it not them disrupting our harmony by refusing to conform to our group? And what do ‘they’ say…? Well, ‘they’ naturally experience the same as we do and in turn recede into their own social bubble. Culminating in a saddening us-them gridlock: the one ‘together’ being frustrated by the other ‘together’ with disastrous consequences at times. Paradoxically, this stalemate arises precisely because of our shared, but semi-conscious wish to be together and our inability to adequately manifest this.

That is why we cherish the ‘together’ and try to find ways to overcome opposition. We like to do this together with you, your organisation and everyone open to it. With gratitude we look back at 2018 and eagerly look forward to an evolving and expanding ‘together’ in 2019.

Best wishes from Tineke, Gaitske, Donjah and Annajorien