Notes from Stockholm in the Plague Year

You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?

This famous quote of great thinker and orator is once again haunting us. This time we managed to upset a large opinion around the world by our approach to the corona crisis. Our morning papers are reporting the papers from around the world reporting on Swedens apparent lack of proper response to the crisis. From Germany to USA, to Argentina there are reactions to the swedish reaction (or lack of it).

Is it a genuine concern about our well being or anger and frustration when marshal laws at home are compared to ours relative freedom of movement? I later this may also imply that some people are waiting around, hoping for something terrible to happen to us. As a proof of them being right and us being wrong. We had already this terrible experience years 2015-2016 after welcoming a huge influx of refugees banned by others.

Personally I think that its a little bit of a misunderstanding. What we have here is basically the goal as in many other countries. What differs is the ways Swedes are used to. Generally it’s based on rational and responsible behavior, high level of trust in authorities com and – not least important – in each other and peoples responsible behavior and common perception common sense. Stuff that are sooo boring in everyday life and so appreciated in the times of crisis.

Just look at the bike riders around Stockholm (and they are usually a lot of them) almost everyone, young and old, cool or terribly uncool, is wearing a bike helmet. Why? Because is safe.

Same thing with skiers. Years ago I’ve noticed I many places around Europe that you could easily point out the Swedes, Finns or Norwegians on slopes by their ski helmets. (Most of them are good skiers as well but that’s another story.)

So in the time of pandemic people here are walking around with their virtual helmets on – i.e. behaving responsibly. You just need recommendations from the health authorities. Don’t need to close down everything and send out the police or military to enforce the rules.

Will it be enough? Will it work in the long run? Or will it end in a giant disaster?

Let me use famous quote of a really great thinker and orator, Tevye the Milkman from Anatevka:

“I tell you: I don’t know.”

Stay tuned!