I think I actually have had it. Today is the Swedish National Day, and wherever I have been, whether it be in my car listening to the radio or in my home watching TV, I have repeatedly heard the question asked ‘why/what are we celebrating?’. What? The most common answer seems to be ‘who cares, it means we have a day off work’, but the constant questioning of our right to celebrate – in whatever form it may take – being citizens of this country is seriously getting on my goat by now. Fine, enjoy having a day off! But stop questioning the right to be just a little extra proud of your country on one day every year!
You don’t need to be a history buff to know that 6 June was the day on which Gustav Vasa liberated Stockholm from the Danes back in the 1500s. You don’t need to be all that clever to go to Wikipedia and look it up if you want to know. I don’t think it’s about the date, though. I think there is a bigger problem here. A very Swedish problem. We are, for some strange reason, not allowed to be proud to be Swedish. The Swedish culture dictates that we shouldn’t be patting ourselves on the back for being Swedish, or for doing or being anything that might in any way imply we are in some way better than anyone else. We wouldn’t want to offend! We wouldn’t want to be somehow unequal! Fine, I can understand that… To a certain extent.
The fear of being perceived as a racist, a neo-nazi or any kind of fascist has taken over our right to be proud of our country and our history. Our fear of stepping on the toes of anyone, including but not limited to the people from other countries who have sought refuge with us, is overshadowing the basic right of Swedes to be proud of the beautiful country we live in and the history that has made Sweden what it is today. I find this unacceptable!
For years we have allowed neo-nazis to use our flag as a symbol of their less than honourable agendas. We have allowed Right wing extremists to talk about a ‘pure’ Sweden and felt the shame of our society. Some have listened, some even voted to put these… Idiots… Into parliament! I am not one of them. I find the idea that someone should be inferior to me simply because of the colour of their skin or their beliefs despicable!!! The notion that simply because someone has a different background than I do they are somehow less valuable than I am is baffling! How could we – anyone – say that??? I am not racist and I do not condemn people of a different race or faith simply because of it.
The fact of the matter is that Sweden is a Lutheran Protestant country, has been for centuries. Before that we were catholics and before that… We had our own Norse Gods, good old Odin and the boys. It is, whether you believe in anything or not, our tradition. Our history. I believe we should respect those who have other faiths, but I also believe that they have to respect the traditions of the country we live in. If you do not like it you have the option to move – and that AGAIN applies to Swedes and people of another background equally! If you are unwilling to have your child attend (once a year) end of school ceremonies in church… Fine! Keep them home! Or, and this is merely a suggestion, you could have a talk with them about the fact that there are those out there who do not – right or wrong – share your belief system, but that you should respect them regardless! Respect their traditions, their history. You do not have to be a believer to enter a Swedish church! Christianity won’t physically rub off on you if you do and, unless you’re a vampire (in which case I would stick to keep your kids home), you will not burst into flames.
It really isn’t rocket science, is it? Who knows, perhaps in the next 500 years or so we will no longer be Lutheran Protestants, but why should we adjust our traditions because they do not suit someone who does not share our history? Shouldn’t we be proud of that history instead and want to share it with those who might not understand the ‘Swedish’ way of looking at things? Just the other day I read somewhere that there is talk of banning the Swedish National Anthem from being played at end of school ceremonies… If you live in this country and attend Swedish school shouldn’t you at least show your country the courtesy of listening to a piece of traditional music for a few minutes perhaps two times per year? That goes for Swedes too, by the way!
Are we so hell-bent on proving that we don’t like the monarchy that we have to resign and deny our national heritage? We do have a royal family right now, but there is a possibility that may change in the future. Until then, are you going to let THAT prevent you from standing up tall and say with pride that you’re Swedish, even though you don’t agree with the current (and, by all means, historic) monarchy?
Come on, people! Celebrate being Swedish on this day! Be proud of this beautiful country! Be proud of our history! Some parts aren’t all good, but show me one country on earth who has a flawless record! Be proud of your flag and your traditions! Don’t let some short-sighted, narrow-minded racist idiots take that from you! Don’t take it from yourself! If nothing else; How do you expect someone who comes to this country, or someone who is born in this country, to integrate and learn to appreciate Sweden if we can’t show that we do?