Unlearning Hate

If you hate an entire sect, group, community, region, religion, nation etc., then you have surely fallen prey to indoctrination. 

You have been taught to hate, either by your own negative experiences, or by negative experiences/perceptions of others, or by agenda-driven propaganda. 

Yes, true. You can also indoctrinate yourself (self-indoctrination) by leaving your critical faculties unused.

But, don’t worry!

A learned behavior can be changed. Just remain humble; tell yourself repeatedly that you are teachable. 

There’s no shame in unlearning falsehood and embracing universal truths.

Quote from my Pakistani friend, journalist and activist
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Sverigedemokraterna, Guess What? We’re All Here to Stay

In the wake of the frightening results of the Swedish election – 13% voted for the populist party Sverigedemokraterna, a double increase since the last election – I have many things to say, but what I want to do today is to share with you a small list. I like lists.

This one contains a description of a few different persons in Sweden. What do these people have in common? Make a guess while you’re reading.

  • Person 1: Iranian woman. Has a weird sense of humor, always makes you laugh, can cook you amazing dishes that takes hours to prepare.
  • Person 2: Swedish-Greek woman. A person who listens to you more than she talks about herself. Brings small gifts whenever you see her, anything from a bottle of wine to a pair of earrings from one of her travels all around the world.
  • Person 3: Syrian woman. Always makes the gatherings light and bubbly, always makes you feel good about yourself.
  • Person 4: Swedish-Finnish woman. Hosts you in her house when you need somewhere to stay, despite having three small unruly kids, without asking for anything in return.
  • Person 5: Swedish man. A wonderful person who’ll do anything for you and helps you out whenever you need him, but also tells you if he thinks you’re completely down the wrong lane.

So what is it that these people have in common? They’re all close friends to me. Without them my life would be quite empty. And the other common factor: they all have legal residence status in Sweden, just like I do. A residence permit or citizenship is not something that can suddenly seize to exist, no matter what your hair colour or religion happens to be. And you who voted for Sverigedemokraterna, guess what? Your racist policies won’t break up friendships, or lovers, or parents from their children. People from different colours and ethnicities have always mixed with each other and will continue to do so. We’re all here to stay.

I’m a True Swedish Patriot – You’re Not

Sweden in the summer

Election time in Sweden is coming on September 14 and I’m abroad on a humanitarian mission as I usually am. Last minute it suddenly turned out I hadn’t the possibility to vote at the Swedish embassy in the country where I am. I desperately called and e-mailed the Swedish embassy and asked them to send me the voting material – they made an exception and sent it by private mail to my office. I taped together an envelope with my vote and sent it by DHL to Sweden for 40 USD, eternally grateful that it had worked out, not regretting the 40 USD it had cost me. I will do anything for my country, because I love my country.

I love my country because of many things. I love it because of the weather: in Southern Sweden the weather is mild and rainy in the winters which I love as I hate snow, crisp and sunny in the springs and the short summers are, despite being short, always provided with some sunny days.

I love it because of the clean beaches and the sea, the big, clean parks with fountains and lakes.

I love it because of the social welfare system. I have been unemployed many times between my missions and I always had an income so that I could pay my rent and afford food, because of the unemployment benefits I received. We have public daycares, schools, hospitals, health clinics, psychological care  – all to no or minimum cost. We have decent homes for homeless people, drug addicts and asylum seekers. As long as I live in Sweden I will never have to be afraid of living on the street or not afford health care or school for my kids. I love paying tax to my country as I see the good that comes out of it and since I love my country.

I love it because of the diversity. I have friends from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Liberia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Gaza, Greece, Pakistan, Bolivia, France, UK and Sweden. We have clubs in my city playing dancehall, hiphop, Arabic music, Persian music, singersongwriter evenings, pop, hard rock, electro, classical music, klezmer. An addicted traveller like me will never feel bored in my homecountry.

I spent all this effort and money to vote as I love my country and I want to keep the good things with my country and see it develop. I am a true Swedish patriot since I love my country as it is. You Swedish nationalists, Sverigedemokraterna and Svenskarnas parti, who are candidates for the upcoming national elections, don’t. You’re striving for a Sweden that never existed. A Sweden where people are no longer safe. I’m a true and proud Swedish patriot loving my country for all that it is – you’re not.

Photo copyright: Sweden and the Middle East Views

I Love My Country

IMG_0004I love my country and am proud when telling someone I’m from Sweden. I’m aware of the negative aspects some people would hand to you (the weather is depressing, it’s hard to make Swedish friends, there are stupid rules for everything, even alcohol is only available in state-owned shops with limited opening hours) and I will agree with some of these things – but if I hear someone critizice Sweden too much I get sad. Why? Because it’s my country!

In an ideal world everyone would love their country and be proud when telling someone where they are from. I once met a guy in a party who asked me to go on a date with him, that said he was from “close to the Iranian border”, when he really was from Afghanistan (I have a tendency to ask people around one million questions when I meet them, so he couldn’t hide this fact for too long). This I find a bit sad, since he obviously didn’t think he’d have a chance with a white girl if he said where he really was from. In an ideal world people wouldn’t be ashamed of being American because many people dislike George W Bush; Germany because it started the Second World War; an underdeveloped country because it’s an underdeveloped country. I believe that change must come from both the outside as from within, why I want to challenge everyone to say that they love their country and give at least three reasons why. No country can be so bad that you cannot give at least three reasons to love it, right? Here’s why I love Sweden:

I love that there are bike paths everywhere

I love that if you see a homeless cat or dog you call the police and they will come and take it to a shelter

I love that people are honest to the point where it hurts, but at least you won’t get fooled (“If I want to hang out with you this weekend? No, I don’t think we have much in common”)

Which ones are yours?

Photo: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Blog