Saturday, March 5, 2011

To blog is to think

Returning to blogging after an absence of 16 months! The need in me to write a blog again has arisen for a number of reasons. First and foremost the need to write something, whether it be a book, a blog or whatever. Secondly the mind-numbing boredom, inactivity, and sheep-like nature of social media like Facebook and Twitter. Thirdly, disillusionment over my return to the Catholic faith two years ago. And finally, societal developments globally, but also and primarily in Sweden.

I'm not going to write about all those now. But I am going to write a bit about Swedish society.
A few things generally lacking in Swedish society today are civil courage - i.e. standing up for what you think is right and intervening when you see something morally wrong or criminal or pointing out to people that you think what they are doing or saying is wrong and unacceptable.

Linked to this, and partly a cause for the decrease in civil courage, is the rising level of unpleasantness and violence in people when they are justifiably challenged.

Now, and this is the trickiest part to write without sounding like a xenophobe or racist.
I hate racism and I hate racial and cultural stereotypes. However, the more time goes by, the
more I realise that stereotpyes are based on experience, "no smoke wihtout fire" as the old saying goes.
Of course one person's experience is hardly the basis for a stereotype but when dozens of people report experiencing the same thing well then surely it's gone beyond being a stereotype and is nearing the realms of a cultural trait, that is felt to be acceptable by that culture.

And negative stereotypes or negative cultural traits cannot be defeated if the object of the stereotype continues year after year to answer to what the stereotype claims and refuses to accept that certain things in one country aren't acceptable in other countries. Just because something is a part of one culture doesn't mean it has to be accepted by other cultures in other countries where said trait is not acceptable.

Again today, I had another "foreign" man (I enclose the word foreign as I am myself a foreigner in Sweden, I do so because I dislike negative adjectivesl ike non-Swede, non-Christian, unbeliever, non-white, unAmerican etc.) man blow up in my face because I told him what he was doing in a shop was unacceptable and wrong, he just went ballistic, lost it completely and wanted to know if I wanted to hit him. He simply fulfilled the stereotype that Swedes have of this particular group of migrants, which is: violent, unreasonable and unable to communicate at a normal level.
Had he been a Swede, I would have made exactly the same challenge, however I doubt I would have been responded to in that way. That said, Swedes don't do in shops what this man was doing!

What saddens me is partly that more people are not willing to challenge this kind of behaviour and that's because of the expected, and unfortunately the violent response, which is becoming
more and more usual in society as a whole.

But what saddens me even more is that some members of this particular migrant group still haven't realised that the dislike they evoke in some people isn't racism and has nothing to do with them being foreigners or being olive skinned or being of a different religion, but it has to do with the rude and violent way that more and more of them speak and behave towards other people in the country they've moved to.

I wish they could see how damaging their behaviour is towards themselves.
What saddens me most though is that discussions like this can't usually be had for fear of being branded racist.