onsdag 2 mars 2011

Olof Palme, 1937-1986

At the beginning of this week, February 28th was 25 years since our former Prime minister (the Prime minister of Sweden) was murdered. He was the leader of the Social democratic party of Sweden.
He touched the hearts of millions of people with his speeches and was one of the greatest leaders Sweden has ever had.

Prime Minister Palme was really a committed politician. Palme brought up issues on the agenda that had already been discussed such as gender equality or the vision on racism or even xenophobia in a different way which made him unique as a politician. He changed Swedish politics with his way of speaking and acting and even opened ways for women’s rights issues.

A passage from a speech that Palme held that I find very interesting and true is this:

“A person’s skin color, race, language and birth of place have got nothing to do with human qualities. To rate people with such yardstick is in direct contrast to the principles of human equality. But it is shamefully easy to act that way for the one who feels inferior at their working place, social life, in competition of the girl or the boy.
That is why prejudices always are around the corner, even in an enlightened community. It can flare in a jibe, an unwary replica, simple meanness. Maybe the one acting does not mean any harm. But for the one who gets hit it can reopen wounds that will never heal. Most of us have a need of asserting ourselves towards each other. That is when prejudice against the deviant – the foreigner, the stranger – becomes an option.”

Another passage from the same speech that I love is this:

“Sweden has for a long time been a very uniform country. We have not had minority issues. But reality is changing. We are becoming more and more depending on contact and impulses over state boundaries. We cannot build walls against the outside world, walls that means isolation and back time. The development brings people closer and closer towards each other, in a contact that means stimulation but also difficulties. Internationalism cannot only be a feeling in distance. It is becoming part of our everyday. That means that foreigners in Sweden is becoming a part of a new time. They want to become a part of our community and we on the other hand have to seek communities over the state borders. The world is coming to us and we need to get out in the world as well. The future we have ahead will bring many strains and difficulties when we Swedes have to adapt ourselves to a new reality. But if we have to survive we have to learn how to live together.

To sum up the passages: he wanted changes just like any other politician. But as I said, he brought up issues that were discussed but not properly discussed. I think it was great that he could talk about those issues because those are issues that, if they are not brought up on the political agenda, opens up doors for xenophobic parties to take hold in parliaments. We can already see this in many European countries. That is why I love these passages because here, he brings up issues that politicians nowadays don’t put so much energy on. Maybe because there are other issues to concentrate their energy on, but if migration policy or issues of that kind is forgotten the consequences might turn out as we have seen today - Xenophobic parties establishing themselves.

In memory of Prime Minister Palme an institute by name “International Palme Center” was started in 1992 and works for democracy, human rights and peace .