I was waiting for a delayed flight heading towards Denmark. My time in Rome had been packed with impressions, sunlight, pizza and cappuccino. The flight was already half an hour delayed, and I looked towards the TV hanging on the white wall in the waiting-room, ready to be diverted, or at least catching up with the outside world. First came some news about a car accident, and I realized it was all in Italian, which I unfortunately do not speak. I was already fading out, and was thinking about starting reading the book I had brought with me, when a picture of the Pope popped up on the screen. This caught my attention (when in Rome, do as the Romans do), and I stared at the news-picture. Something big seems to be going on. Two girls that I had noticed before, because they were sitting opposite me, and having a conversation in English, also looked towards the screen. One of them was Italian and the other had said she was Spanish, studying in Italy. (It was hard not to listen in on their conversation, being so bored waiting for the boarding.) When the Italian girl saw the news, she quickly picked up the cell-phone and had a quick conversation in Italian, it started “mama!”. Afterwards she turned to the Spanish girl, and said “My mother told me the Pope has resigned because of old age and tiredness. He does not feel that he can perform his duties satisfactory anymore. He is the first Pope who has resigned in 600 years!”

 

These words brought up a lot of contradictory feelings in me. And this is why: I had been to the Vatican, and St. Peter’s church during my stay in Rome. My mother, whom I visited there, thought the church was very beautiful, and that the art there was fantastic. I didn’t see the beauty, because of all the Popes staring down on me, their statutes so big that you almost felt what catholic suppression might have been like. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the good things the Church has done, work among the poor, giving hope to people who didn’t have any without God. But the inquisition was somehow lurking in the background, and the splendor didn’t make me forget that the poor paid the price for this huge church. I left St.Peter’s with an anger that didn’t subside for the rest of the day.

 

All this made me feel that the resignation of the Pope was almost a personal courtesy to me. That it was a sign that my feelings had somehow reached the Pope. He had suddenly realized that enough is enough. As I watched the reactions around me, I felt that this was a moment of significance. An Italian actually did the “typical” Italian gesture of raising his hands and waiving them in the air. He was really upset. A Swedish woman drily said “nu blir de ledsna allihopa.”(they’ll be sad now, all of them.)  I felt that this moment was somehow meant to tell me something, albeit I was not sure just what.

 

Standing up, to get in line for the boarding, I realized that it was not especially the Catholic Church that brought up this feelings in me. It served as a representative of political power. All these grand buildings, like castles, churches, palaces, forts and more modern huge banks and organization-buildings have something in common. They are so grand and huge that you feel very small entering them, they give you the feeling that you should bow to authority, and accept the way the powerful people in the world rule it. It was really this that made me angry. I have no problem with people being religious, I actually consider myself religious, but I do have a problem with strict hierarchical structures. In whatever form they might be. The Catholic  Church’s power was at it’s greatest in the 11th and 12th century, which is a long time ago. But are we really free of such structures? Are we not subordinating our self to the big companies and the most powerful politicians, whose final words are similar to the Pope’s Ex Cathedra?

 

 

Why are people so prone to elect leaders, and give them the chance to act without transparency and without having to be responsible for their actions? Boarding the plane heading towards Denmark, I naturally found no answer. And looking at the people standing in line, impatiently holding their tax free-bags, discussing the lateness of the flight, I thought: -White smoke will soon rise out of the Sistine chapel, and the world will have a new Pope. People seem to continue chanting “The King is dead, long live the King”. History repeats itself; whatever we may call the King nowadays. As a got seated, and watched the security-procedure being demonstrated, I came to the conclusion that human beings are indeed a strange species.   

Reklamer

There are some things you can not explain, like the feeling of laying in the arms of the one you love.

There are some things you can not understand, like the universe expanding.

We were never meant to illuminate everything, but of course you can try if you like, and it seems that you do.

If it all could melt, like the honey in my tea.

If sorrow and joy would feel more alike.

The snow is falling and the sun is shining, making the snow melt shortly after it hits the ground. Melting like I can melt, into everything and nothing. All at once.

 

Jeg var nettopp i Roma, og var der inni i Vatikanstaten, og Peterskirken. Jeg hadde vært der før, men fikk denne gangen en ganske heftig reaksjon. Det var store statuer av Paver som har vært opp gjennom, som jeg følte skuet truende ned på meg. Jeg tror jeg opplevde litt av samme reaksjonen som Luther hadde, av avsmak for «makt-kirken». Jeg syntes kunsten bare var usmaklig, og alt gull og glitter satte seg i vrangstrupen. Jeg er ennå ikke helt sikker på hva som irriterte meg så, for sist hadde jeg ikke samme reaksjon. Sist så jeg alt det vakre, mens nå tenkte jeg bare på maksmisbruk og utsuging av fattigfolk.

Ett argument som burde mildne inntrykket litt, er jo at alle kan komme inn dit. Enhver kan kalle det «sin kirke». Det vakre er der, tilgjenglig for alle. Jeg ser at det er et poeng, men var fremdeles veldig sint da jeg kom ut. Da Paven avgikk mens jeg var på flyplassen i Roma, på vei hjem, anså jeg det nesten som en personlig gest.

Samtidig er klar over alt det bra den katolske kirken har gjort, og gjør! Og jeg veit at det er urettferdig å la noen betale for andres tidligere synder i det uendelige. Jeg er ikke for den type kollektiv gjeld. Katolikker i dag kan ikke noe for inkvisisjonen, like lite som alle hvite Europere har skyld for den tidligere kolonialismen. Så hvorfor var jeg så irritert på Peterskirken? Sannheten er at jeg ikke er helt sikker, men jeg tror aversjonen har med alle autoriteter og hierarkiske strukturer å gjøre, generelt. Jeg tror ikke folk i stor nok grad setter spørsmålstegn ved lederne i samfunnet, det være seg presidenter, statsministre eller Paven. Vi kan ikke komme videre om vi fortsetter i samme strukturer i århundrer etter århundrer, uavhengig om tradisjoner er viktige for mennesker eller ikke. (noe jeg tor de er.) Vi må fremover! Paven kan være en fantastisk mann, men han er ikke Guds representant på jorden. Det er bare ikke sånn! ( Ok, jeg får modere meg litt: Jeg tror ikke det er sånn) Om vi lar store bygninger og vakker kunst gjøre at vi glemmer underliggende strukturer kommer vi oss ikke vidre, om det er Peterskirken, en Moske, en Synagoge, en monumental bank-fasade eller stats-bygning er egentlig ikke poenget.

Ifra Brighton har jeg fått med meg at det for tiden er en opphetet debatt om Norsk kultur, og om det finnes en Norsk kultur. Jeg så nettopp på «debatten» med blandt annet Jon Hustad, Jonas Gahr Støre og Siv Jensen.

http://tv.nrk.no/serie/debatten1/nnfa51011013/10-01-2013

Det er et interessant spørsmål! For med så mye påvirkning utenifra, og i en kultur som i seg selv er så forandret, kan man fremdeles snakke om en egen norsk kultur, essensielt sett? Er det i det hele tatt viktig? Og er invandring til landet i såfall en «trussel» mot det såkalte Norske?

Representanten for anti-rasistisk ungdom var opptatt av at alle med norskt borgerskap var nordmenn, og angrep Siv Jensen for å bruke ordet «innvandrere». Jeg skjønner at det er et sensitivt tema, for det er klart et sårbart emne. Men jeg tror ikke det løser problemet å gå mot en retorikk hvor det ikke er mulig å bruke ord for å foklare seg, og snakke om hva mange ønsker å snakke om. Det er så mye å forholde seg til i denne debatten, og så mange tær man kan tråkke på. Men jeg tror de organiserte anti-rasistene gjør seg selv en bjørnetjeneste ved å ikke differensiere mellom dem som på en rasjonell måte ønsker en mer åpen debatt om utfordringer, og også fordeler, ved innvandring, og de få som mener at noen «raser» er bedre enn andre.  Når hun sier at Siv Jensen står for en attenhundretalls holdning om at hvite etniske nordmenn er de eneste som hører hjemme i Norge, er på mange måter slaget hennes tapt. Hustad på sin side virker altfor opptatt av hvilken produktivitet og økonomiske tap man kan regne på, i forhold til innvandring. Der jeg mener han har rett, er at man burde kunne sette et søkelys på hva slags problemer grupperinger av mennesker i dagens Norge har, inkludert «etniske» norske.

Når representanten for anti-rasistisk ungdom påpeker at man ikke må kategorisere kultur, men se på hvilke samfunn de kommer ifra, i forhold til despoti, korrupsjon og annen politisk struktur, har hun selvsagt rett. Men er det ikke dette inkludert i hva som er kultur?

Norsk kultur: Kanskje du ser for deg den skigående, kwick-lunch spisende litt naive nordmannen, som befinner seg på kirkebenken ikledd nickers, og som neste dag er litt for tidlig på jobb, smilende og klar som et egg? Kankje du ser for deg en øl-drikkende, hasj-røkende studenten, som tar noen fag for å få penger av lånekassen? Kanskje du har noen egne premisser for hva som gjør en norsk? Språk? Glede av naturen? Godkjennelse av lovverket? Kanskje du ser på noen som mindre norske enn andre? Kanskje alle med statsborgerskap er norske for deg? Uansett burde vi gå sammen om en sanset debatt og diskusjon , der man ser på den nåværende situasjonen, og hva som forbedre den. I debatten ble det sagt at det er lite segregering i det norske samfunn, og det ble sagt at det er stor. Noen mener de som kommer til norge gjør det fordi de allerede står for de samme verdiene om likestilling og demokrati, mens noen mener at visse segmenter motarbeider det. Her burde man virkelig ta tak i en ordentlig vurdering i hvor problemene og potensialene ligger, hvordan man kan motarbeide negative trender, og hvordan man kan støtte opp om potensialet. Om jeg skal si en ting jeg synes er viktig, så er det å komme over at alt skal være så politisk korrekt at man til slutt ender opp med å aldri snakke om noen ting!

NB: Om det dukker opp noen store bokstaver der det skulle ha vært små, eller noen rare formuleringer, må jeg til mitt forsvar si at jeg har skrevet nesten bare på engelsk i et halvt år.

Integration in the United States and the United Kingdom.

This post will reflect on integration in the United States and the United Kingdom, with some comparative comments at the end.

The United Kingdom.

A study by the British Council says that the UK is one of the most welcoming countries for immigrants, compared to 27 other European countries. The same study however puts UK at 15th place when it comes to allowing immigrants to vote and take part in other democratic processes. Lastly they ranked ninth for overall easy integration for immigrants. This shows a diverse picture of integration in the UK.  

The United Kingdom is often presented as a diverse society, where ethnical and cultural integration is championed. Racial tensions seem to grow, however, as shown in the troubles between British Muslims and the English Defense League. An Ipsos MORI poll in April 2010 found that respondents placed race relations/immigration in second place, when asked what were the most important issues facing the country. Both positive and negative aspects, then, emerge when one researches integration in the UK. Along with stories about friendship and cooperation are stories about violence and disintegration.

In her book The myth of UK integration Kailah Puri writes: “There is virtually no exchange of ideas at a local level between different races;-Arabs, Chinese, Asians. ”Trevor Phillips- head of the Commission on Racial Equality- is similarly reported to have said: «when we leave work, most of us leave multi-ethnic Britain behind. «Lastly, in a speech about radicalization and terrorism prime-minister David Cameron said that “State multi- culturalism has failed.” These statements show that problems clearly exist.

When integration is discussed nowadays, Muslims are often at the forefront of discussion. A UK-research suggests that the reason for their lesser extent of integration is that Muslims tend to have lower paying jobs, and live in more segregated areas than other minorities. The research shows that other minorities show greater levels of integration according to how long they have lived in the UK, whereas for Muslims the years lived in the UK brought no such significant change. Lastly, another observation made is that Muslims tend to develop a higher sense of identity when in contact with the majority norm of behavior, for example in a working place.

That this group has greater integration-problems than other minorities, then, seems to be correct. The difference in religion arguably has a part to play here, since it is so visible.

Ghettoization in general is obviously a problem, both for the minorities and the indigenous population, because it increases the alienation felt on both sides.

The United States.

The United States have a long history of immigration and integration. The colonies were founded by immigrants, and the 19th, 20th and 21th centuries have brought diverse religious, ethnic and cultural peoples. The US likes to consider itself as a “melting pot”, or for those who don’t like that image a “salad bowl”.  However, tension concerning religious, cultural and ethnic differences is a visible part of US history.  A Washington Post poll from2008 reported that half of Americans believed race-relations “in bad shape”.

Today, Asians and Hispanic, somewhat rudimentary categories, are the majority of immigrants coming to the US. In the popular mind, the South-East Asians are the model immigrant, who adapts and creates capital. This overlooks the poor Asian immigrants who end in segregated and poor parts of US-cities. Hispanics are often connoted with illegal immigration, and are often discriminated against.

After 9/11 white Americans have been more skeptical to immigration, both legal and illegal. And the integration process for Muslims has noticeably had a setback.

To sum up, it is obvious that integration has its problems in the US. This is seen by the poverty of minority groups, and their unrepresentativeness in political offices. Ghettoization is noticeably a huge problem in the large cities of the US, furthering segregation.

Comparing the integration in the US and UK is too long a task for this post, but some points can however be noticed. In both countries there are obviously difficulties, shown in race-related riots and ghettoization. The higher level of poverty and lesser extent of political influence of minorities is also a common feature.

Another similarity seems to be that, for the time being, Muslims from the middle-east and parts of Asia has the biggest challenges in integration, both by self-imposed segregation and by suspicion and racism on the part of the indigenous population. 

USA is still taking in substantial numbers of immigrants, and has done so throughout its history. (16)Still nativism and racism has always been present in the American society. The UK have similar problems, but the amount of immigrants is smaller, and the presence of non-white immigrant newer. Even though ghettoization is present in the UK, it seems to be a more structural problem in the US.

An argument made by critics in the US is that there has been immigration there for so long, and that the Protestants opinions about the Catholics, Italians for example, in the 19th century mirror some attitudes towards recent immigrants. The arguments further runs that since these problems were overcome, they can be solved again.

On the other hand, the government in both the United Kingdom and the United Stated should not ignore the tensions and frustrations of culturally, ethnically and religiously different peoples. If the immigrants are to be integrated, it takes the cooperation of policy-makers, the executive branch, the indigenous population and the newcomers. In a future where the probability of less resources, less access to energy and more environmental troubles seem inevitable it will be interesting to see how the peoples of these diverse nations will cooperate.

Right timing.

 Never mind right timing today

It worked yesterday.

I want everything, which is too much I know. But perhaps when I’m old and so many years have passed, I can sigh and say; “everything was there all along”

Never mind right timing today

It will work tomorrow.

You want it all, which is too much you know. But perhaps, when you are old and you see all the lies that were in your youth, you’ll sigh and say; “It was there all along.”

So let’s not forget today, but promise me that we still live tomorrow. Let’s not live in the past, but promise me that we can laugh at the fools we were back then.

 So excuse me, but hold me hard and tell me to shut up.

Israel has started «operation pillar of defense», and has this morning conducted over 180 bomb-raids over Gaza. That Israel is feeling threatened is not strange, given both the history of the Jewish people, and the recent ( from the birth of the state in 1948) attacks from the surrounding Arab-states. A feeling of danger and persecution is almost in the genes of the Jewish people, and the State of Israel. This is important to understand. On the other hand the retaliation towards Gaza is so out of proportion. I do not support Hamas, which seem to use the Palestine civilians as a mere means towards an end. They have made the situation for the people they should represent so much worse. The Palestinians should depose of any party that is set on creating animosity and violence!

The creation of Israel was, I believe, not sufficiently thought through! I sympathize with the Jewish people’s need to have a secure place, somewhere that belongs to them. They have an impressive sense of tradition and identity. Still, so many civilians have died, and the situation seems so far from being resolved. Additionally, the state of Israel has such a strong military, and such an amount of weaponry. The wall and the Jewish settlers, which segregates and throw Palestinians out of their houses makes one wonder if the State of Israel has forgotten the persecution of its own people. «an eye for an eye» is never the solution, end even less «two eyes for an eye».

To conclude, my sympathy goes in both directions, and especially to the innocent civilians on both side, who are put in an extremely complex and dangerous situation.