Jun 26, 2016

A dark solstice week

On the lightest day of the year Sweden decided on new residency laws for refugees making me ashamed to be a Swede and moving us towards darker times. And on Midsummer’s Eve’s morning we woke up to Brexit. This, the lightest week of the year, has been a dark one.

To me it’s a peace and solidarity project.

I was very sceptic. I remember our first stay in Seattle 1993, people asking me about the European Union. And about my opinion. Sweden would take a vote in 1994. I didn’t believe in the project. Look at the U.S., it’s hard enough although all 50 states are speaking the same language and the currency is the same! The European countries have their separate languages, currencies and cultures, even though it’s a lot of times is close between the borders! No, I didn’t think it would work. And so I voted no.

83% of the Swedish people went to the polls, and luckily I didn’t get to decide. We joined the Union in 1995.

The next vote was in 2003, would we join the monetary union? I voted yes. It’s hard to know if the outcome had been different if hadn’t our Foreign Minister Anna Lindh been stabbed to death in a Stockholm downtown store the same weekend as the vote. It might be that we went for the familiar in a time of chock. Sweden voted no to the Euro, and so our participance within the EU came to be a very Swedish solution: lagom. Lagom means the middle way. Not too much and not too little. With an inclination towards not too much.

Which turned out to be a lucky strike. The Swedish economy has been doing really well outside the monetary union while many of the Euro countries have been struggling hard. We have had the best of both worlds. You could also say we haven’t done our part in being solidary with the less fortunate countries.

To me EU is a peace and solidarity project. Meanwhile things were at it’s worst in Greece some years ago someone said to me, well, if this had been a hundred years ago we had all probably been at war with each other. Yes, probably. Europe hasn’t through it’s history been known for being very peaceful, on the contrary. And Sweden was constantly at war until 207 years ago. Not that the 207 years of staying out of war has anything to do with the EU, but I’m just saying.

I can understand, if not agree, on Great Britain thinking they would be better off without the EU. Why would a former colonial super power need anyone else? Didn’t we once own the world, they might ask them selves, feeling the colonial blood running in their veins? Why would we allow everyone else parasitizing on us? 

Well, because we are in this together! Brussels might be an unwieldily institution and the farther we are from that center, the more foreign it might feel. But the fact that people from 28 countries have to constantly come together, meet, listen, talk, see each other and connect, make war much less probable to happen. And to believe that we are better off not participating in the European community is believing we are superior. And that’s a very dangerous thing.

I am genuinely worried. We can’t even fantasize about the consequences of a Europe as we now know it, falling a part. Meanwhile the continent is a goal for thousands and thousands of people fleeing their homelands from war and terror, only to find barbed wire and borders closed. And to the east Putin stone faced watching, scheming machinations. Add to that Donald Trump to the west and we have a doom’s day world scenario.

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