I was born in the UK and 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.
I try to look at the world with open eyes. Sweden, like all other countries, has its problems: an ageing 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. Not nationalism. And not lies.
I am proud to be Swedish and live in Sweden. And I am patriotic. But being a Swede is not about eating meatballs, or herring, or chocolate balls, or flying the flag or singing the national anthem. And it is not about being blonde or blue-eyed.
What does it mean to be Swedish then (to me)?
- Swedes take in thousands of people in their direst need
- Swedes help people survive war and starvation
- Swedes lead the way in social and humanitarian issues
- Swedes do not criminalize poverty
- Swedes flourish in a diverse and multicultural society
- Swedes stand up for human rights and equality between men and women
- Swedes believe in self-fulfillment – you can be whoever you want to be
- Swedes respect children
- Swedes believe in self expression and the right of free speech
- Swedes understand the work life balance
- Swedes cherish the environment
In my mind, this is what it is to be Swedish. These are the very things that brought me to Sweden and made me fall in love with the country and its residents.
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 conservative politicians. Do not buy into the nationalistic rhetoric.
On social media, on the streets and in your life, question the source of all information. Challenge racism. Do not just swallow the bullshit. And whenever you disagree, stand up and be a proud Swede!
Have no fear – the Swede is here!