Sweden’s reputation is currently under attack and I feel I must respond, however unpopular this might be. I feel angry, frustrated and saddened about recent events. This is my angle….
I am proud to live in Sweden and I am proud, and fortunate, to have received Swedish citizenship. This is a country that, in my mind, builds on equality and solidarity. This a country that tries to do the best for its people. This is a country that stands up and does the humane thing, even in difficult circumstances. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
In some foreign media, Sweden is currently being dragged through the dirt. Stories based on lies and fabrication are spreading. Sweden is falsely being depicted as a failing country on the edge of collapse. This is total and utter bullshit. It is nothing more than the poisoned school gossip trying to bring down the popular student. It is a tactical attempt to spread fear and uncertainty and we must not bow to it. It is in their interests to undermine the social experiment that Sweden stands for and attack the politics of liberalism and tolerance. A weaker opposition opens the way to a closed and darker society.
Opportunistic right wing Swedish politicians are jumping on the bandwagon. By reinforcing this picture internationally, they paint themselves as the concerned party. Make no mistake, this is pure manipulation. Their only motivation is to gain more of a foothold in Swedish politics and gain political power based on lies and fear. They want a fearful and closed society.
I try to look at the world with open eyes. Sweden, like all other countries, has its problems: an aging population and an expensive welfare state, challenges of integration and inclusion, social problems, unrest and crime. Of course this exists. To claim these didn’t exist would be naive. And of course crime should be fought. But I truly believe that Sweden can solve these issues. And I truly believe that the way forward is the continued path of openness and solidarity. Not fear and defensiveness. And not lies.
I am proud to be Swedish and live in Sweden. I am proud that Sweden takes in thousands of people in their direst need. I am proud that Sweden helps people survive war and starvation. I am proud that Sweden leads the way in social and humanitarian issues. I am proud that Sweden does not criminalize poverty. I am proud of Sweden’s diverse and multicultural society. I am proud that Sweden stands for human rights and equality between men and women. I am proud that in Sweden you can be whoever you want to be. I am proud that everyone is welcome here. I am proud that Sweden respects its children.
In my mind, this is what it is to be Swedish. Sweden is the true land of opportunity.
This is my call to action. Do not buy into the lies and falsehoods that are spread about this country. Do not buy into the fearmongering of power-hungry politicians.
On social media, on the streets and in your life, question the source of all information. Do not just swallow the bullshit. And if you disagree, stand up and be proud to be a part of this nation with all of its challenges and its opportunities.
Do you subscribe to the belief that Swedes are shy, difficult to get to know, cold and unfriendly? This is not an uncommon perception, amongst foreigners and Swedes alike.
Well it could be that your perception is nothing more than a stubborn stereotype. Or at least that’s what a new piece of research seems to suggest.
In the UK’s Guardian newspaper this week, research into identifying the world’s most sociable city was recently published. And the winner? The number one most sociable city in the world?
Gothenburg. Yes, Gothenburg.
Sweden’s shimmering city on the west coast beat London, New York and Berlin to grasp the title. And the number two position? The second most sociable city in the world?
Stockholm. Yes, the Swedish capital.
I find it rather confusing, but very interesting. The research looked at amongst things propensity to party, openness, and use of social media.
How does this research match your experience of living in Sweden?
To see the research, here’s the link:
If you’ve ever wondered what Sweden’s National Dish is, now is the time to take part in a competition hosted by radio station P3. So far, the folowwing have been eliminated: falafel, swede, ‘plankstek’ (literally steak on a plank) and ‘palt’ (dumplings).
What is left to vote for are the following:
- ‘Smörgåstårta’ (sandwich cake) versus ‘Sill och potatis’ (pickled herring and boiled potatoes)
- ‘Köttbullar’ (meatballs) versus ‘Blodpudding’ (black pudding)
- ‘Tacos’ versus ‘Falukorv med makaroner´ (sausage with macaroni)
- ‘Kebabpizza’ versus ‘varmkorv’ (hot dog)
If you’d like to vote, here’s the link: VoteforSwedenNationalDish
So, what do you think? What is Sweden’s National Dish?
This week is Swedish Championship week. During these days, players gather in the same town to carry out the national competition in their particular sport. Not only is this cost-efficient but it puts the spotlight on many smaller sports. Much of the week is televised, and as a viewer you get the opportunity to watch popular, and less common sports. Sports such as ice sailing, frisbee, wheelchair floorball and snow scooter jumping take part in the week.
But my favorite has to be this one – dog pull skiing! Weirdly wonderful!
On a trip to India last year, I saw this bag in a shopping centre. I liked it immediately. The streamlined form, the black and orange stripe and the fact that it comes from a brand I like. The brand is called Superdry and the shoulder bag has the abbreviation SD written on it.
On my return to Sweden, I realised a terrible thing. The initials SD have a different meaning here, one I didn’t even think of when in India. So typical. SD is the abbreviation for Sweden’s right wing populist party Sweden Democrats – a party with their roots in nazism. I was horrified to realise I could be seen as a walking advertisement for this party, a party not in line with my personal political views. But I decided – hell no! They’re not going to appropriate those initials and my bag!
The next day on the underground, I traveled to work, bag on shoulder. Two Swedish women behind me started discussing my bag. They were displeased that I had a Sweden democrat bag. Turning to them, I explained that they were wrong, the initials are Superdry and they apologised. But it stung.
Isn’t it interesting how our association with things and our preconceived ideas form our opinions? Without question, we presume to understand what something means. Often we are wrong and yet we we are so quick to judge.
If we just took that extra moment to check our assumptions, I’m convinced we’d have a more tolerant and open society.