By Lisa Daram
Let’s use this COVID-19 experience and steer towards open, meaningful societies around the globe, where people can thrive and the planet will heal.
First, I will have to generalize about the typical Swedish mind a bit, just to share a picture of where I would like to get after COVID-19: Sweden has shown itself to be a country that collectively goes its own way. We stayed more or less open when other countries went into lockdown. People in Sweden listened to the government and changed their way of moving around, working, and being social. The subway in Stockholm still is almost empty and even if there are lots of people in some streets, squares and parks, people are in general well aware of the need for distance.
Our country actually has a history of direct connection between “The King” (today that is the government and authorities) and the people. When it comes to the need for action we listen to the top and try to do as they say. Sweden also is the land of engineers. We are pragmatic, most often with our feet on the ground.
But at the same time Swedes are somewhat introverted. We do not like to speak about what is really happening inside us, we dislike open conflicts and there is clearly a suspiciousness towards people who stand out, who speak, dress or in other ways look or act differently. We usually think of ourselves as a people of tolerance, but personally I would say that Sweden is a tough country when it comes to the inside of people – our feelings, our inner motivation, our weaknesses, or our histories. In that sense, people in Sweden are lonely as we carry our deepest human existence all by ourselves.
So – where do I want to go with this now, in a broader sense? While a lot of communication and efforts in Sweden, and I think around the globe as well, are focused on the growth of economy, on technological development and on peak performances in different fields, I would say that we now have to step back and take a look at ourselves and what is really meaningful in life.
One thing that I see as the biggest proof of why we have to rethink and reevaluate things on a greater scale, is that health problems among young people of today are increasing. I don’t think it is strange that when young people see and experience for themselves the adults around them constantly carrying worries about this and that, they lose trust in a hopeful future. We, and the generations before us have made life too hard to handle. We simply have not succeeded in creating good societies, or in showing a possible path to a good life and a good future. And it is about time to start doing just that.
With COVID-19 we have been forced to step back. Life has turned itself inside out and a lot of social and personal issues have surfaced. Some changes will stick, and we will ask ourselves what we want to keep, and how we will have to think and act, in order not to lose them. To me, it seems clear that social and psychological issues are for real and fundamental to all other things. Yes – as mankind – we can fly to the moon, but we do not yet know ourselves and how to create a good society where everyone and the planet can thrive. So, let’s start with that little task and not give in. We will certainly not get bored.