A Call For Open And Sustained Dialogue

söndag 19 september 2010

Swedish Parliament - Parliament member's offic...Image via WikipediaI'm thinking a lot right now, but more than that I'm feeling. I resent it, but I feel stings of despair and I'm trying to fight them off - by doing some more thinking.

The Swedish election is close to over. The "Sweden Democrats", a one-issue party campaigning against immigration in general and muslims in specific, will take place in the Swedish parliament tomorrow. They will be in the position of "vågmästare" or key player / tie breaker, i e since neither of the big party blocks have majority on their own they can tip the scale either way. It's an important role, and even more - for Sweden it's the decline into the company of Austria, Denmark and the other European countries where xenophobic parties have been gaining political power gradually.

This is not the time for agitation. This is not the time to shout "death to all racists" on the streets. This is a signal - a call for the opening and sustaining of a calm and level-headed dialogue. The kind of conversation that technology and the so-called social media/web2.0 revolution have been paving the way for, and which is fostering understanding of multiple perspectives in so many arenas.

Anytime a player such as the Sweden Democrats gain voters' trust, it's because their supporters are unhappy with how things are run. One status update that appeared in my facebook feed was "We should take away the passports of SD supporters! They should not even be allowed into areas where there's no SD support!" - and that kind of knee-jerk reaction just makes me sad. So now we're gonna beat them at their own game? Sorry, but that dog don't hunt.

There must be a win-win solution. There must be a frequency where we can meet eye to eye and talk AND LISTEN to each other. And if we feel that the other party needs to be lectured into our "better understanding of reality" then guess what? That's probably what the other party feels, too.

I'm thinking of two things, two suggestions to move forward:

  1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. On an individual level, reach out to the person whose opinions insitinctively scare you. Ask "why?" and then listen to the reply. Ask again - dig deeper, understand the person. This will not be possible from an attitude of fear and hate - so first, dig deep into yourself to overcome those issues.
  2. The overwhelming majority of the party blocks is a major factor that has allowed SD into political power. Lots of people vote more out of dislike towards the established parties than actual support of racism and xenophobia. What if there was a myriad of smaller parties with clear agendas in topics that significant niches of the population has a real passion for? Would you vote, hypothetically, for The Entrepreneur Party (Christian Rudolf), The Social Media Party (Brit Stakston), The Sports Fans Party (um... Zlatan?), The Joker/Trickster Party (Magnus Betnér), The Foodie Party (Lisa Förare Winbladh)? Names in parentheses are my suggestions for the people that could be the founders of those parties, by the way - so "ping" at YOU.

Please, discuss below in the comments. I especially invite SD supporters to share your story. Also, please use your real names.

Another Niclas (deeped) blogs about the election result in Swedish here.
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