Today it's the first of April, and April in Sweden has a number of attributes, which I think are a bit representative also of the larger times we are living in.
To start with, April is the time that bridges the pre-Spring with the early Summer, and "April weather" is a concept that means that it might feel like summer a few hours, only to snow a short bit after. Probably for this reason, the first of April is traditionally associated with jokes, which often are stated as news that might seem true and a bit astounding at first, but which you gradually understand are actually made up news, to fool the reader.
And looking into the news nowadays really gives you the feeling that many news just as well could have been jokes. For instance, Sweden is one of the countries in the whole world that has had peace for the longest consecutive number of years: we haven't been to war since 1809. Sweden also has a good, and to some extent well-earned, reputation of standing up for peace, neutrality, democracy, and the oppressed minorities in the world. Therefore, the recently discussed news that Sweden is actually exporting the most war-material of all countries, per capita, and that more than 50% of this material goes to totalitarian regimes and non-democraties, might seem like a joke. But it isn't! Our export have always been a black and little known backside of our collective conscience, which our politicians and the media have traditionally kept in the dark, but which now at last is being openly discussed again. And, what has now been discovered by the general public is that between the years 2001-2010 the Swedish military export has 4-doubled, and in the year between 2010 and 2011, our export to non-democracies have doubled! So this is certainly a joke that you would like to laugh at, only it isn't a joke.
Figure shows Swedish weapon export to non-democracies.
Several similar situations concern the whole ridiculous surveillance hysteria that has infected us so badly in the last years. If this would be seen in a larger historical perspective, it also seems like a joke. In the 70s we looked to the eastern-European communist countries, and laughed at them, because they were supervising all their citizen to extreme extents. For instance, if you visited somebody's home, you had to sign a special guest book in that persons home; and that guest book - which everybody had to have one - did not belong to that person, but to the state. This seems, and seemed, absolutely ridiculous. It was therefore not very suprising that the communist regimes fell in the end of the 80s: building a country based on fear is simply not a good long-term strategy. But, despite this knowledge, we have now a few days ago passed a law that makes it mandatory to store who speaks to whom, and where and when these conversations takes place - over all internet and mobile phone conversations. A similar fact, which also seems taken from a Monty Python sketch, concerns the current debate about ACTA. This is one of the most serious threats to the Internet around, even though it scaringly enough only is one of several recently actualized threats. Therefore, the EU has decided to place the handling of this deal in...the Fishing Ministerium! And, it has also been handled as an A-question, which means that it is essentially only handled by adminstrative staff, i.e., where politicians have had very little insights into the development of the texts.
All these things are examples of a democratic Winter that still lingers in our system. But there are also periods of hope, when you feel almost certain that Summer is near.
One of the most important and positive things that has happened this year, at least for people living in Linköping, Sweden, where I live is the following little green plastic bag
This plastic bag is given to all households in the whole city. In these bags you throw all organic waste, and this waste is then being sorted automatically out from your other garbage, whereafter it is being converted to compost and to bio-gas. This is such great news, because it means that everybody can, and I guess most will, start recycling food into compost and bio-gas production. I think that the biggest step is taken when the average citizen is caused to almost automatically do the right thing, and this step - which starts to work today! - has now been taken for the very important issue of food recycling :)
Some other important developments that I have discovered just the last few days concern the P2P-movement. I think these are extremely encouraging developments, on so many levels, and I will for sure write much more about these in future blogs. Now, however, I will just end by linking to some rather recently discovered angels of music who have recently come to earth. The first one is a little girl called Emily Bear, and she writes her own music, which she also plays herself on the piano. The second little angel is called Jackie Evancho, and she sings so beautifully that you can almost feel physically how light enters and transforms your entire being, when listening to her singing. Such music is for sure a sign that humanity has such an enormous potential, that the development and further nurtering of these sides is something that can truly bring a more heavenly state-of-affairs here on earth, and that Summer might indeed be just around the corner.