Thursday 25 May 2000

Me & shirt

Pic of the day: This unopened shirt is not my current (or recent) style at all. Either I got it as a present, or it is years and years old. Probably both, if my vague memories are correct. But I guess you are starting to see now why I have been rethinking some of my priorities lately.

Waiting for the strike

Tens of thousands of Norwegian state and county employed workers are preparing for a strike as I write this. Unless an agreement is reached tonight, these people - including almost all of my coworkers - are leaving their jobs in a strike. As I've said during the previous (private sector) strike, this would be OK if they then had to beg to be reinstated in their prior jobs, and the employer could replace some of them with more qualified people. Heh. Luckily the new economy doesn't work the same way as the old. In the new economy, when people leave their jobs, they really do. No faking it, like in the old.

And you don't get an economy much older than the public sector. Here survives the idea that all people are equal, except that some have worked longer than others and are therefore superior by nature. So we have people work a long life with some rather limited task, and eventually they are therefore assumed to be qualified for a completely different job that they don't know jack about. Stuff like that.

I know that my readers are smart people, so I won't bore you with repeating my earlier analysis of the Norwegian economy and stuff. Onward to the really interesting topic, namely me! :)

I'm not "unionized". I don't even like unions. (Labor unions, that is.) I think their time has gone, in their current form. But if my comrades go on strike, I'm not going to do their work. In order to avoid that, I'm taking the days off. This will go off my vacation, so there will be less of that later. But that's OK. What would I be doing on a vacation anyway? Of course, if there should actually be a strike, I can't run off to some remote place either, since it could end any moment. I have to be back for the next morning.


When we get right down to it, a strike like this isn't exactly the worst thing that can happen. It can be pretty bad, in so far as some communications will be taken out, and hospitals may be somewhat hampered. But it's not like the poor people down in Ethiopia and Eritrea who are embroiled in a devastating war while the civilians starve to death. I can see the reluctance of donors, including our own government, to give food to some other government's people while these governments prioritize killing.

There is a school of thought that essentially says that each people get the government they deserve. That if people did not want shitbags as rulers, they would have overthrown them. Certainly it seems that people sometimes do just that, secret police or no. Rumenia comes to mind. But the logical extension of this line of thought is that we should not bother too much about people like the Eritreans. They have chosen a pointless war over survival, and we should respect their free will, right?

On average, I guess, it is right. But averages are lies. Oh yes, there are probably some among the starving who still think the war was a good idea. But more often than not, it is not the same people who start a war as those who starve, huddling far from their home. Yes, they do belong to the same nation. And it seems that yet for some time the illusion of nations will keep its grip on most people in the world. But know that it is just that. An illusion. A trick of the mind.

Nations are just administrative units, like provinces or counties or cities. True, often there are some kind of unifying factor: The nation has been ruled by the same family some time in the past. Or they have a different religion from their neighbors, or a different language. Some such stuff that make them feel special. Different from other humans. Bah. If only the biodiversity was so great. But we're all close cousins. The differences are just part of a play we act out without thinking.

Is there really any reason why Norway and Sweden should be two different nations? We occupy respectively the western and eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, speak variants of the same language. (The language of western Norway was historically more different from that of eastern Norway than this was from Swedish. Decades of national broadcasting has helped fix this to some extent.) We have the same ideology, the same main religion, the same traditions in most of the ways of life.

Is there really any reason the Saami people should be part of the Norwegian nation (or, for minorities of them, Sweden or Finland or Russia)? They speak a language that is less related to Norwegian than Sanskrit is. They have (or had, until forced to give it up) a different culture, a different way of life. Yet, thanks to various kings and their success and failure in battle and bed, the Saami are Norwegians and the Swedes are not.

But thanks to dumb luck, or the mercy of a nice god, we don't have any wars around here any more. (OK, a high standard of living helps too.) So I'm just waiting for a labor strike, not an air strike. That makes one huge difference, let me tell you. But the stupidity remains the same. The willingness to be led by fast talking men, who play on our need to accuse others for our lack of happiness. Today it is others, but what about tomorrow? What is our guarantee that we won't be the ones starving in makeshift bomb shelters one day?

Some thinker once said something about eternal vigilance, but it's been a while and it's so hard to remember. "The price of (something) is eternal vigilance"? Oh well. He probably did not mean that we should think, anyway. It probably meant that we should kill and die on the say-so of the fast talkers, the way it uses to be. I guess the normals need the fast talkers to give their life meaning. To make them feel special, because they are born on the right side of the line on the map. Because they are pronouncing some words differently. Because they nod their heads another way when they worship...

Sometimes I grow lonesome, being the only one to see the world this way. Sometimes I grow so tired, sitting here alone, waiting for the midnight strike. Yet I wouldn't switch places. This is my life.

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