Sweden 2014 – two hundred years of peace?


So it’s soon the start of a new year – 2014. Another year of sublime and strange Swedish things.

Over Christmas the Swedish King mentioned something in his speech, something that is repeated in the media. For Sweden, 2014 marks the 200th year of peace. In 1814, Sweden signed a treaty with Norway thereby giving them independence. And Sweden, it is claimed, haven’t been at war since then. 200 years of peace is something that the media is proud of.

But hang on a minute. Sweden was ‘neutral’ in the Second World War, but still allowed German troops to cross the nation as they occupied Norway and the country sold iron to Germany for their weapon industry.

In 1961, Sweden was involved in the war in Congo, in the 1990’s in Bosnia and, as we speak, Swedish armed forces are active in Afghanistan and the Libyan Civil War.

Maybe it’s semantic, but is there actually any difference between being in a war and being at war?

Alid’s Lightening Catcher

Long, long ago on a remote southern island in Stockholm, there lived a small group of people. These people supported themselves on fishing and foraging in the woods.

And they were a nasty bunch.

Whenever they got the chance, they would steal from other villages, or they would shout abuse from the hill tops or urinate in the lake water. For years this went on until one day Thor, from his heavenly position, got tired of listening to their behaviour and profane language. Now Thor, being the God of Thunder, had resources at his fingertips. With one swift movement of his hammer, he shot a bolt of lightning down at the villagers and blew them straight off the hillside. 

But this didn’t stop the villagers. Laughing at Thor, they shook their fists and shouted abuse up into the sky. This made Thor more angry and for every time they laughed, he continued to bombard them with lightning. The years went by and with new generations, the behavior of the villagers changed. Tired of being blasted from above, they began to speak more kindly, to stop their stealing and to use appropriate methods of hygiene. But Thor was an unforgiving God and lividly continued to shoot his burning bolts down onto them. 

More time went by and the villagers realized that Thor would not cease. Instead they would have to combat his attacks. They dug a fire pit to engulf the lightning, but it did not work. They built a fountain to extinguish the lightning but this didn’t work either. They sacrificed goats and pigs. But nothing worked and Thor’s wrath continued to rain down. 

In despair, they turned to the wisest woman in the village – Ancient Alid. Alid was somewhat of a witch and the villagers were rather scared of her. But she had an idea. She told them to build a lightning catcher. So the villagers set to work. 

For years they built, until one day their masterpiece was finished. Upon the highest point of the hill, they had constructed a lightning catcher. The structure had two mighty towers reaching high up into the sky. And it worked! Every time Thor threw a lightning bolt, it was dissolved into one of the towers first and did not hit the village. The people of the village rejoiced! They were saved and slowly they could start to grow their community in the safe shadow of their construction. In honour of the wise lady, they gave the structure a name.  Hög Alid – High Alid.

You can still see it there today, high on the hilltop of Södermalm.  Today Stockholmers use it as a church but long ago it was built to protect the people from a very different god. 




Sweden’s Top 10 Most Handsome Politicians

It doesn’t come as a surprise that looks count in politics. We all know that PR people try to pimp their candidates so that they look more attractive and gain votes. We all know that, although politics is all about the issues, a winning smile doesn’t hurt. At the weekend, some friends and I designed a list of Sweden’s most handsome politicians. We came up with the Top Ten! This list is in no way objectively researched but purely the subjective reflections and objectifications of this little international group. So, here’s the list!

Position 10 – Tomas Tobé. Moderaterna Tomas_Tobe_0000149000

Position 9 – Erik Ullenhag, Folkpartiet
erik ullenhag

Position 8 – Christopher Fjällner, Moderaterna
christopher fjallner

Position 7 – Ardalan Shekarabi, Social Demokraterna

Position 6 – Hans Lindberg, Social Demokraterna
hans lindberg

Position 5 – Gustav Fridolin, Miljöpartiet
gustav fridolin

Position 4 – Ali Esbati, Vänsterpartiet
ali esbati

Position 3 – Hampus Magnusson, Moderaterna

Position 2 – Hans Linde, Vänsterpartiet

Position 1 – Jan Eliasson, Social Demokraterna
jan eliasson