Not Neutral on Sweden

Not Neutral on Sweden

Carl_Larsson_Christmas_Morning_1894Two and one half years in Sweden, living with my aunt and uncle and attending 4-6th grade had a profound impact on my life. These are identity forming years, in which we begin to perceive the values held by our families, our tribes, our nations, at an intellectual level. This period was all the more profound for me, having landed in Sweden as a result of domestic kidnapping (see The People of the Sign). Given that I was a focal point of a contentious divorce proceeding that wound its way to the Supreme court of Sweden it isn’t surprising that I adopted neutral Sweden’s version of socialist nationalism over that of the individualistic and very competitive United States, where I had been kidnapped from, or my native Canada.

Swedish IdentitySwedish society in the late 60’s and early 70’s reflected the best that Socialism had to offer: universal employment, universal education, universal access to health care, tolerance, justice, and a causal reduction in extremes of poverty and wealth. Sweden was a world leader in equality, freedom and international humanitarianism. It was easy to root for Sweden in World cup hockey, Soccer and the Olympics – especially when its major competitors were often totalitarian regimes from within the Soviet Union. I was very proud to identify with their Neutral stance, neither for nor against the West or the East

Sweden's Summer Solstice CrisisThere have always been accusations of hypocrisy against Sweden, whose neutral position has roots in WWII when it opted not to become an enemy of Hitler’s Germany. These could be brushed off fairly easily, since no nation can lay claim to a perfect pedigree, and the tiny population did what it felt it needed to survive.  It’s decision gave it a head start in economic terms, once the war ended, empowering its meteoric rise after the war. Sweden’s population when I lived there hovered around 8 Million, but it had international stature that easily exceeded that of nations 10 times its size, and a reputation as a champion of human rights that was in a league of its own.

I used to defend her, always. Then I became more neutral. These days her neutrality rings so hollow that I can no longer be nuetral on Sweden.

Tel_Aviv_university_students_support_IDF_and_Israel_against_Gaza_Flotilla_3Sweden’s activism in Middle East politics is clearly wrongheaded and hypocritical and her decision to support Islamic countries in opposition to Israel has removed all doubt that she has lost her way. What began as neutrality towards Nazi Germany, which was the primary driver of the Holocaust has morphed, over time, into a malfunctioning moral compass that today welcomes any Trojan Horse that knows how to ring a Swedish doorbell. Sweden now routinely welcomes and protects hate preachers & jihadists in its continued efforts to convince the world that it is non-judgmental. After standing by while millions of Jews were murdered in WWII Sweden proceeded to lay down a long track record of opposing Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorism. There is nothing neutral about her activism against the lone Jewish State on the planet in favor of those who have turned a desire to destroy Israel into a political cause. Launching the ship Marianne from Gothenburg to break the Gaza Blockade, the so-called “Freedom Flotilla III” is just the latest example in an ongoing campaign.

humans_respect_humans_by_rbeloniojr-d4y9ceuIn pulling a random Virtues Card to conclude with, Respect came up.  “Respect is an attitude of honoring ourselves and others as people of value. We care for each person’s dignity. Everyone has the right to expect respect.” That pretty much calls Sweden’s bluff. Its pretense at respecting everyone has enabled her to hypocritically pick and choose which aggression to turn a blind eye to, a mask to hide behind while interfering in the self-defense of a nation even smaller than her. In the past Sweden leveraged its Geographic isolation to avoid dangerous confrontation, with great success. Her respect-less international meddling will certainly result a continued loss of respect for her as well.

 

Sweden’s Political Crossroads

Sweden’s Political Crossroads

Wallstrom on Women It’s been almost six months since Sweden’s decision to recognize a Palestinian State. My blog on that topic highlighted the double standard being employed to bolster that decision. I stated “Regardless of intent, I believe the acceptance of, and open practice of double standards and false equivalencies on the International stage is destined to make matters worse, leading to more, not less, war and bloodshed.  Swedes don’t like to think of themselves this way, but sometimes the truth hurts.”

Thankfully, I suppose, double standards and false equivalencies (which, by the way, is how I believe we can identify hypocrisy) tend to eventually become clear, even to the hypocrites themselves, in this case, Sweden’s leaders. Truth, Lies or just hypocrisy?One can only hope that Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who was recently blocked from speaking at an Arab League meeting and who is now being denouced across the world of Islam as “an enemy of the Prophet”. Ms. Wallström, countered, before Swedish Parliament recently, that she had no intention of criticizing Islam.

Why then the outrage? Read all about it here, including how Veronica Nordlund, from the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s press service, apparently was unaware that Saudi Arabia abstained from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it violates Sharia Law. The chickens are coming home to roost, on Sweden’s hypocritical stance, as the article outlines.

Will she retract her criticism of Saudi flogging and misogyny, and announce that it was never her intention to offend the great Saudi nation or its culture? In that case, she will have dealt a devastating blow to Sweden’s claim to be a “moral superpower” and to a foreign policy based on human rights and feminism.

Or will she stand by her words and accept that Sweden — and any other country in Europe that claims to stand for humanistic values and the primacy of human rights — is in for a debacle that may well be more severe than what Denmark experienced during the Muhammad cartoon crisis in 2005/2006?

Perhaps perversely, the random virtues card I pulled to conclude here was Flexibility. Not, frankly, what I was hoping for. But here goes…

“Flexibility is the ability to adapt and change amid the fluctuating circumstances of life. We go with the flow, seeing the choices, challenges and opportunities in all that happens. We do not insist on our own way.” All of this would seem to support Sweden’s stance, but wait, there’s more.  “When the unexpected comes, we rise to the challenge with resilience and confidence. We are willing to change unproductive habits… The winds of change may bend us but they only make us stronger. We are willing to grow.”

The first affirmation is “I adapt when change is called for”.

Wallstrom flexibilityIt turns out, this virtue may be just what Sweden needs. Will the country be able to change its course – that of accommodation and even praise for that which, if properly understood, is actually antithetical to their stated values? Can Sweden admit that it has been hypocritical, and rebound from that, with a genuine change? Can Sweden be that flexible? It will be interesting to watch.

Pi Day

Pi Day

Pi Picture croppedSeth Godin brought Pi Day to my inbox this morning. He alerted me to the fact that pi’s opening digits, 3.1415, match up with the calendar today. Take a moment to read his excellent brief statement about it, so I don’t have to repeat what he said, but rather can add my own take on Pi to the equation. Carpe Diem style.

As the Founder of Something Or Other Publishing (SOOP) I immediately emailed SOOP’s Authors encouraging them to Carpe their own Diem – to do the imaginable, one day at a time, vs. listening to the critics in our head that tell us something isn’t possible. Then it struck me. Pi Day isn’t a day that comes once a year.  It’s a day that only comes once every hundred years.

At least by the roman calendar, and by the month/day/year convention. (If we use the day/month/year convention there’s no Pi Day at all). Here’s a definition of Pi. “A name given to the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter. That means, for any circle, you can divide the circumference (the distance around the circle) by the diameter and always get exactly the same number.” For me it always brings to mind David Bowie’s epic early song, the Width of a Circle from “The Man who Sold the World”

Aztec Calendar MayanThe calendar is a big deal to me. I’m a believer in Revelation. On the site devoted to my book, The People of the Sign, I used the calendar date of 9/11 to write about the Divine Calendar – the one mentioned in the book of Genesis, which claims that God established time, and that He did so by organizing the sun, moon, earth and even the stars in such a way as to create a gigantic universal clock. A clock so powerful it could not only predict the future, but be used as a lens to make sense of today, in that light.

Einstein God's ThoughtsPi Day highlights a very important element in my personal search. Many who accept Revelation reject Science. This is a huge mistake. Einstein is arguably the worlds most famous scientist, and he famously stated “I want to know God’s thoughts – the rest are details”.  In my view, his contribution to understanding Time was one of his greatest. He also wrote “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

My blog today is to appeal to my Scientific minded friends to reflect on the unquantifiable mystery of a simple circle, and the mix of knowledge and imagination needed to create great things. And while my Religious minded friends understand that God created man to know Him and to worship Him, they may not have understood that Science is simply one way in which many seek to do exactly that. Whether they recognize it or not at this point.

In time they will.

Davinci's ManIn the meantime, what is the width of your Circle? I like to use the Virtues to measure mine. That’s why I conclude each of my blogs with one.

For those who want to know the Science behind my use of Virtues Cards in blogging, I always pull the card after completing the blog, using the Virtue to reflect upon what I wrote. I love the serendipity of seeing what emerges. Today I was very pleased that it was Devotion.

“Devotion is commitment to something we care about deeply. It is a passionate focus on our life’s purpose… What is my ‘yes’? What calls me so strongly that I cannot resist, knowing that it is truly mine to do?” The card features the quote “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”.

Devotion

 

Is Madison Ferguson?

Is Madison Ferguson?

Matt Kenny Tony RobinsonAs a citizen of Madison I’m both saddened and hopeful.  Saddened by the tragic loss of Tony Robinson – a young man whose life was taken by bullets fired by Police Officer Matt Kenny, while he was unarmed.  And saddened by what is brought to mind by the understandable and justified angry reactions of so many citizens who see the similarities between this event and that of Ferguson – which is that there have been uncountable similar events – and much worse – throughout our nation’s history.  But I’m also hopeful because of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and the way he has approached this tragic shooting. His first act was to express compassion and humility, publicly asking for forgiveness, before all the facts were known.Family Virtues

I’m also hopeful because of the results of the Essential Family Virtues Program which my family has launched in our Southwest part of Madison, collaboratively with parents from the Madison Community Montessori School, and elsewhere, and the Virtues Project / Virtues Village, and others.

I’m encouraged by Mallory Shotwell, our first teacher who was inspired during that first year to launch the Madison Community Discourse, now also in its second year.  She focused on love last year, and this year chose Courage. And I’m excited about the possibility of further collaboration with the East Madison Community Center, Madison Community Discoursewhere we held a virtues workshop, after which they expressed interest in establishing a similar program on the East side of town.

Do these hopeful but tiny initiatives represent unwarranted optimism on my part? Will Madison turn into another Ferguson?

It’s always darkest before dawn. My heart is broken, along with Tony Robinson’s family and the communities within Madison that are most affected. But I’m encouraged and hopeful by the reactions of so many in Madison – those hurt and angry, and those touched who wish to be helpful.  Darkest before DawnAcross various ethnic and economic lines here in Madison I can think of noone who will be reacting with anything but concern and a willingness to strengthen bonds and build bridges, to further the hard work that is necessary to continue the progress made by this great country, going back to the civil war, and beyond. My family and I focus on building a hope of the future into our children, the belief that they can and will make a difference. And that this difference will be in peaceful virtuous cooperation with everyone else with whom we share the planet.

The virtue card I drew to end with was Confidence.  This confirms what I’m trying so ineffectively to convey here, in the wake of tragedy. I’ll let the card speak for me, to conclude the post.

“Confidence is having faith in ourselves and in life… We trust that we have the strength to cope with whatever happens… When we are confident in others, we believe in them, and rely on them… With confidence, we cast off self-limiting beliefs and doubts. We offer our gifts as a worthy contribution. When opportunity comes, we step up to it. We just say ‘yes’.” Children are our future