Are Nordic Countries a Brighter Progressive Light than the United States?
There was a post I read recently about how “dumb” Americans are about investing in education as opposed to the Nordic countries. They have a lot of things right, but let’s try to study this and be more fair.
Here now is my reply that I think you will largely agree with:
Americans are not stupid, many are oppressed by poverty, yes, but they aren’t stupid regarding their natural abilities to think, they are just encouraged by their circumstances not to look too deeply into what is a distressing situation that feels rather hopeless.
Many Americans have been taught that intelligence is of only one universal kind, and that you are born with it and it doesn’t need developing, as you can “pull yourself up with your own bootstraps”. So if you are “smart” you don’t need help, and if you are not deemed “smart” it’s a waste of money to invest in you.
Education thus is not seen as an investment worth making here in America, by way too many people. They say it is, and the rich know it is and invest in it, but the underlying premise among the poor is that you hope you have smart kids, you don’t try to help them “be” smart, survival is all about pleasing the boss, and you hope you win the lottery. This is how people tend to think when they feel helpless to change things, when fear of losing a job becomes more important than political protest or even clear thought about their discomforting situations and lack of opportunities.
People don’t think beyond what is comfortable, and for the poor, comfort is found in being against unions, and believing they are free because they have the right to quit and work for the slave shop plantation down the street. Additionally it’s easier to try to think that those who are in power actually care about you, than to stand up for yourself.
Regarding progressive Nordic countries we can’t compare their progress to a large nation such as the United States where change and progress take more time and avenues to dodge real change are more numerous.
People in smaller countries,such as the Nordic countries, don’t feel as daunted in standing up for themselves, as they do in larger more populace ones, such as the United States. Our revolutions, here in the United States, are in bits and pieces and don’t apply universally, and leave lots of places for oppressive non progressive thinking to remain largely untouched.
Observe gay rights for instance. Gays are free to be married in some states with full benefits, but in many states non progressive thinking which takes time to undo is still prevalent.
Regarding the progress in Nordic countries, It might be more fair to compare some of our individual states to these Nordic countries, while remembering that non progressive states and areas are still able to influence the nation as a whole through votes in the houses of Congress and even the Senate.
Constantly we are seeing the problem of what is called “too big to fail” in many areas of human discourse and trade. What this means is that we need much more empowerment of individual rights and better ways to translate this power into changing larger organizations whether called big government or big business or big church or big media. So the real problem isn’t “too big to fail” but “too insulated too care”. This can be addressed over time and we are doing so in the United States of America.
Nordic countries appear to be ahead of us, but it is partly an illusion, as we need organizations both big and small, and because we have both in the United States we are making large progress toward changing not only ourselves but the whole world. That is another reason to consider the United States a shining light on the hill of ultimate justice and even world peace.
Our military is big because we are striving to extend our influence and light around the world and Nordic countries are under our umbrella of protection, a protection for which they do not currently pay. So the size of our military is not a strike against us it is a marker of how much other countries who benefit from it do not contribute to it’s purpose: greater stability around the world. Other nations are beginning to share that goal and investment and as democracy spreads the need for arms will diminish.
I am convinced that the United States is still the main crucible for progressive change in the world because we have united both big and small and are working on the main problems in the resulting relationships: a lack of objective, empathetic, and creative thought empowered when we nurture and empower our children, and children around the world.
Still think the Nordic countries are far above us? Wasn’t it a Nordic country that, because of a lack of a history of immigration on a scale to match our own, decided that some of its religious people shouldn’t have steeples as high as those of the majority of their population? Oh, and this because they feared them and thought that these “other” tall steeples looked too much like nuclear missiles???
We need improvements here in the United States but in the grand picture, look out, we are going to make changes that some of our smaller allies will only see in their dreams. Yet, they can teach us a thing or two, but we could teach them a thing or three.
Now then, let us back out into space and see this struggling humanity on this small fragile globe, we are all of us quite awesome, so let’s forget about comparisons and strive to empower each and every person on this planet, for essentially, we are not citizens of a particular country alone, we are citizens of the world.
Rev David Mitchel Stow